Bluebird Canyon

McCall, Dan. Bluebird Canyon. New York: Congdon & Weed, 1983.

Picture southern California. Now picture the star of a soap opera star named Rex Hooker with a penchant for self-destructiveness. The two go together in a stereotypical way, don’t you think? What isn’t so typical is Bluebird Canyon’s narrator, Oliver Bodley. Better known as “Triphammer” or “Trip”, Detective Bodley is a not so ordinary city police officer who gets caught up in Rex’s struggle to keep from losing it all. Interestingly enough, Rex and Trip go way back, as in high school way back. As the story unfolds, we find that Trip and Rex had been through quite a bit together back in their younger days. Just to give you an example. Rex and Trip are accused of partaking in the gang rape of a drunk girl. The victim’s brother and five of his friends proceed to kick the crap out of Trip and Rex…in detail. There’s more where that came from. Fast forward 20 years. Trip has been called to the Hooker estate for an apparent suicide attempt. Trip hasn’t seen his friend in those 20 years and Rex was rumored to be the victim. Be prepared. It gets nutty from there. Turns out, Rex is fine but 45 pages later his girlfriend’s sister accomplishes what he didn’t. Rex still lives with his parents but has a son, an ex-wife and a girlfriend. Meanwhile, at 37 years old, Triphammer is adrift. He doesn’t have a steady relationship, hates his exwife, in fact; he lives in a trailer on the beach (think Chris the DJ on Northern Exposure), he’s constantly losing his hat, and he doesn’t have a problem doing drugs in uniform (minus the hat). What he does mind, however, is being spit on.

All in all, some of Dan McCall’s plot was a little annoying. As I mentioned before, Trip is called to Summer Snow because Rex Hooker is trying to commit suicide. 45 pages later, another character hangs herself. It is mentioned the Hooker family is petrified of fire. 51 pages later Summer Snow is burning, thanks to an arsonist. I never grew to like Trip at all and I thought the writing was rambling and disconnected. At times the behavior of all the characters were exaggerated and ridiculous. Other times their actions were too sedate for the scene: two dogs were murdered on two separate occasions, two different houses were set on fire, two different suicides occurred…it all seemed a bit much. If McCall was trying to bring Rex’s soap opera to life in Bluebird Canyon he succeeded.

Quotes to make you sit up, “The world is full of assholes, and eventually they all turn up at the beach” (p 65), “My hole couldn’t handle a Q-tip” (Yes, he’s talking about what you think he’s talking about on p 72), “Chemists do not liven up a conference” (p 111), and “I wish my mind was a dog and I could train it to go sit” (p 244)

Reason read: California became a state on September 9th, 1850.

Author fact: Dan McCall passed away on June 17th, 2012. The Cornell Chronicle posted a really nice obituary about their former colleague.

Book trivia: I could see this as a movie, but to my knowledge one has never been made.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “California, Here We Come” (p 49).

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