Jimmy Buffett’s music has been a friend of mine for quite some time. The mood that the majority of his melodies create in me is one of relaxation and feeling that everything is right with the world, if only for a moment. They are the ultimate in escapism, which is why I return to them time and again.
“A Salty Piece of Land” is similar in this regard. It is a form of escapism, which Mr. Buffett clearly admits to in his author’s note at the end of the book. The book was published in 2004, but was being worked during September of 2001. From the author’s note:
“The world also changed forever in the middle of this literary journal after 9/11, which made me realize that now, more than ever, we don’t just enjoy our escapism — we NEED it.”
This book certainly delivers on that. It follows the adventures of Tully Mars, a character who was introduced to us in Jimmy Buffett’s “Tales From Margaritaville”. He’s a cowboy from Wyoming who finds himself on the run from an ex employer and ends up finding various rest stops in and around the Caribbean. Along the way, he meets various characters and they have have the laid back adventures that remind you of Jimmy Buffett’s songs and in many ways, the adventures affect your mood in much the same way. You feel relaxed, and you start to think that all could be right with the world if you could just hop a boat to the Caribbean (and stop being a Gringo).
The main story is entertaining, and the character of Tully Mars is one you really start to root for. He is caring in a nonchalant way, the kind of guy we’ve all run into (if we’ve been lucky) in a bar. He’s the one that’s there, has had adventures, but really doesn’t take the spotlight. An enjoyable presence that doesn’t demand anything of those around him, but gives of himself when he can. The characters in the book respond to his nature, to his great benefit in some cases.
There are many characters throughout the book, and one of the things that I noticed was that I became distracted by the story-telling style. Many times, when a character would come on stage, there would be a break while they told their story. This was necessary for the plot, but did seem to break up the narrative a bit, sometimes in a harsh way.
That said, in the end, this book is about characters and about their stories, and it is enjoyable. As the book says:
“So many people live such dull, predictable lives these days that the real adventurers are becoming a thing of the past — but their stories are like channel markers for the story waters of the future.”
So, find one of the author’s CDs, blend yourself something sweet, and enjoy a good adventure story.