Whirlaway is a solid contender for the best book I’ve read in 2018. Poe Ballantine is one of my favorite writers – a wayward son of San Diego living in Nebraska, he has written an absolutely hysterical, biting novel about America’s Finest City that just killed me. Record-collecting, Del Mar Racetrack betting, La Jolla cliff diving, & Tijuana prostituting all swirl around an unreliable, escaped mental patient of a narrator & his telepathic dog. So incredibly ridiculous & hilarious, I implore you, dear reader, to enter the mind of Poe with me. You may never return. -Seth
Eddie Plum, who insists he's been unjustifiably committed to a California psychiatric hospital, manages to finally escape after fourteen years of incarceration to start his life anew. On the run, he holes up in a sheltered barrio on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean owned by his wealthy but unsympathetic father. Here he meets Sweets, the telepathic dog, laments the loss of Sofia, his madhouse lover, and plays the horses at the Del Mar Racetrack. Eventually he meets up with an old friend, Shelly Hubbard, a fellow horseplayer, record collector/dealer, and hardcore loner, who tells him about his brother, Donny, dead at the age of eighteen from a tragic dive off a thirty-foot La Jolla sea cliff known as the Clam. Eddie discovers a family secret and wants to help, but by then he's already embroiled in the psychotic incident with the Tijuana prostitutes, the madhouse lover, and the police, who are hot on his tail. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride has nothing on Whirlaway, a hilarious novel of escaped mental patients, horseplayers, and record collectors.
About the Author
Poe Ballantine currently lives in Chadron, Nebraska. The documentary of the same title as Ballantine's memoir, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, won the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival Hot Doc Award as well as the Big Sky award, given to the film that captures the spirit of the American West. Michael Moore included filmmaker Dave Jannetta's Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere at the Traverse City Film Festival and the documentary was also a finalist for the Philadelphia Geek Award. To view the trailer click here: https: //youtu.be/eBvBKa4KJpg. Ballantine's work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Sun, Kenyon Review, and The Coal City Review. In addition to garnering numerous Pushcart and O. Henry nominations, Mr. Ballantine's work has been included in the anthologies The Best American Short Stories 1998 and The Best American Essays 2006.