by Bruce Anderson, January 10, 2011
Catch/Release by David Ollier Weber, lately of Comptche presently of Placerville. A novel set here in the Emerald Triangle's most exciting outback venues, mostly along the Mina Road running between Covelo and Alderpoint, Catch/Release begins, “We still pick up hitchhikers in Mendocino County....”
Yeah, lots of us do, but only because we know them and there might be social consequences if we don't stop. But if you're deep in the outback, somewhere south of Zenia, basic human solidarity will make you to stop for someone who appears to be in need, which is what Ollier's nifty little novel is pegged to, a humanitarian impulse that nearly gets the humanitarian killed.
The author has clearly spent a lot of time around low-lifes because the low life he gives a lift to is perfectly portrayed right down to the creative grammar of his vocabulary of curses.
The book's a page turner. I picked it up during the serial rounds of gluttony that mark the birth of Our Savior at my house and didn't put it down until I was confident the narrator would survive. Ollier manages to capture both the more comfortable Mendo vibe reflected by the flesh pots of Mendocino Village and the ominous one you can get in the Northeast sector of the county even without a demented hitchhiker.
In this tale, which is definitely an essential addition to the Mendo ouevre, you not only get deftly drawn suspense but a nice set piece on fishing, funny encounters with a surly Klamath store clerk and a female Fox News zombie who picks up our hero on Highway 36 when he becomes the hitchhiker. Ollier's a guy who knows his Mendo, from the Pacific to the Yolly Bollys. If your local bookstore doesn't have it, pester them until they do.