Radio Free Olympia by Jeffrey Dunn
|Radio Free Olympia by Jeffrey Dunn|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A story blending prose and poetry with themes of ecology, folklore, love and loss. Not the easiest read, but certainly a rewarding one. Jeffrey Dunn popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 404||Date: October 2023|
|Publisher: Izzard Ink Publishing|
Petr is an orphan. Rescued by the strange, reclusive Bear, he is brought up far from bustling cities and busy human society, in the forests of Washington's Olympic Peninsula. After Bear dies and a brief sojourn in human company, and armed with only a pirate radio transmitter, Petr goes on a journey through the forest, broadcasting the strange, wild and rarely heard voices he encounters.
Baie is the founder of Wildsisters, a women's refuge, where she offers succour and sustenance to any sister who needs it. And cranberries. She joins our story when a baby is abducted, the women come together, and a search for the infant begins.
Told in a mix of prose and poetry, Radio Free Olympia is a cry for justice. Not simply for the characters it follows but also for the environment they are journeying through and you'll find yourself rooting for more than just the people. But you'll love the people too.
I loved the blend of themes, forms and ways of storytelling in Radio Free Olympia. There's grittiness and the kitchen sink drama of neglect and loneliness. But there's also magic and transcendence from folklore and indigenous oral tradition. There's prose and there's poetry. And there's the way in which nature infuses everything. At times it feels as though the environment of the Olympic Peninsula is a character in its own right, indistinguishable from the human cast. This last is cleverly done and at no point does it feel like anthropomorphism; it's all about the connectedness of life on this planet and the delicate ecosystem under such threat.
There's a wonderful cast of human and folklore characters: Petr the foundling broadcasting to... who? Baie, the woman who tries to help her lost sisters. Raven in the air. White Otter in the water. You long for them all to come together... and eventually, they do. And the author's deep, intimate understanding of the Olympic Peninsula ties them all together.
It's not an easy read. There is so much going on and so many threads to join that the myriad ways of telling can prove a challenge. Radio Free Olympia is not a light beach read. But for the reader prepared to make an effort and immerse themselves completely, the payoff is genuinely rewarding. I haven't read a book like this in quite some time.
For those interested in both environmental themes and lyricism, we can recommend the classic Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.
Jeffrey Dunn was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Radio Free Olympia by Jeffrey Dunn at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Radio Free Olympia by Jeffrey Dunn at Amazon.com.
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