Mary Simonsen's Reviews > When Pigs Fly

When Pigs Fly by Bob Sanchez
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Jul 30, 12


After retiring from the Lowell, Massachusetts police force, Mack Durgin has moved to Pincushion, Arizona, where he is leading a shapeless and boring existence, largely due to the loss of Mary, his wife of 30 years. Meanwhile back in Massachusetts, Diet Cola, a dangerous ex-con, goes looking for a winning lottery ticket that lay hidden in an urn containing the ashes of George Ashe, a former colleague of Mack's. During Diet Cola's 11 months in prison, the ticket remained undisturbed in the home of Mack's parents, Carrick and Brodie Durgin; that is, until they mailed George's remains to their son so that he could scatter them in the Grand Canyon.

Diet Cola and two thieves, Frosty and Ace, as well Calliope Vrattos, a beautiful waitress, and the Elvis impersonator who is stalking her, are all headed in Mack's direction where they will hook up with Juanita, an unfortunate choice for Mack's first sexual encounter after his wife's death, and her jealous boyfriend, Zippy. The cast is complete when Brodie, Mack's mother, who is in the early stages of dementia, and her loving husband, Carrick, whose primary role is to keep his wife safe and happy, arrive in Arizona to visit their son.

If When Pigs Fly were a movie, it would be a 1930s screwball comedy. Zippy is after Mack because of his one-night stand with his girlfriend; Elvis is after Calliope; Diet Cola, Frosty and Ace are after Mack's ticket, which is complicated by the arrival of Mack's parents. Mack knows nothing of the ticket in the urn. He has been asked to spread his friend's ashes, and that's what he's going to do. All of this is played out against the beautiful Arizona landscape.

Amidst all the chaos created in the pursuit of the lottery ticket are two charming stories. Carrick Durgin knows that his wife's dementia is only going to get worse. He wants to make the most of the time left to them, and so they go to Las Vegas with a side trip to see Mack. Brodie, who's brain has apparently deleted the fear mechanism that keeps human beings safe, finds herself in the company of Diet Cola and Zippy. Instead of being afraid of these two hoodlums, she chastises them for their bad behavior. All Carrick can do is hope and pray that his wife will not come to any harm.

And then there is Mack and Calliope. Mack is a handsome, kind, thoughtful person who is trying to figure out how to live in a world no longer inhabited by his wife. Although he is attracted to Calliope, he feels that if he became involved with the former waitress it would be the same as cheating on his wife. For her own reasons, Calliope is reluctant to begin to a relationship with Mack. Calliope and Mack are like two people who see each other across a crowded dance hall. They know that the attraction is there, and step by step, they move to the center for that first slow dance.

This is a laugh-out-loud type of book with some of the funniest writing I have read in years. The dialog sparkles and the characters are funny and believable. And did I mention a javelina named Poindexter?
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