The Infinite Echo

B. Thomas Cooper is a freelance journalist, photographer, blogger and historian. Topics include Political Commentary, Satire and History

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book Review - Illusions, the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Illusions, the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, written by Richard Bach (not to be confused with Richard Bachman) who is perhaps best known for having penned the now classic Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Illusions, the follow-up, almost seems to pick up where it's predecessor left off. Just where exactly that might be, is somewhat up in the air.

The bulk of this story is about the lighthearted adventures of two barnstormers during the heyday who meet by chance in the fields of America's heartland. The hero of the story, or the reluctant messiah, as the title suggests, is flier, Donald Shimoda, and his aerial accomplishments. Shimoda, is a barnstormer.

For those unfamiliar with the term, barnstorming refers to a form of aerial acrobatics performed by pilots primarily during the wildly exciting 1920's. Often a pilot would land his aircraft in a farm field or pasture where heart stopping rides were then pitched to the brave, usually for around two bits. Stunt aircraft of the period were able to perform breathtaking maneuvers at very low altitude, sometimes only inches above the crowds. Wing-walking was also a popular event with spectators. America was mesmerized, and barnstorming soon took the Midwest by, well, by storm, of course.

Illusions is a classic, feel-good adventure story, and at just under one hundred-fifty pages, it reads very quickly. For myself, I was most intrigued by the story within the story, written on an apparent note pad with a bad felt tip pen, found prefaced at the beginning. It's a short fantasy, touching on the simplicity of our basic survival instincts, based on the every day existence of tiny creatures clinging to a rock on the bottom of a river. Here's a brief passage:

"Each creature in it's own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth."

I think you get where Bach is going with this, but it is well worth the read. The book's title portends a sense of impending dork factor, but fear not, it's really all good, comforting fun. I would highly recommend this book to older children and adults of all ages.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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