Kiss of the Jewel Bird by Dale Cramer
Dale Cramer has written many worthwhile novels in his career, but none of them has possessed the ridiculousness or the brilliance of Kiss of the Jewel Bird. This is a book that so stunned me with its apparent silliness that I had to read it twice, It was only on the second read through that I discovered the magic of the story and the heart of its characters. It was like digging through muck to find gold. The muck was all in my mind and I should have discovered the gold much sooner.
The book concerns a southern good ole boy named Dickie Fry, who strangely wants to be a writer. Eventually he achieves success as the cultured and erudite Fletcher Carlyle, but not before he has a run in with a chicken. This chicken is either his mind's alter ego or an actual computer typing fowl. You will have to make up you own mind as to which option you choose.
What isn't up for debate is the richness of the characters Cramer creates. Dickie Frye is a fascinating study of talent captured within an uneducated mind. It is always there festering inside him but he can only release it when backed into a corner. This evolution of an artist is the heart and soul of Cramer's novel.
Then there is Frye's psychiatrist Anton Kohl. This highly educated man comes burdened with psychological ticks and triggers. Only Dickie Frye can push through them and release the complete man Kohl ought to be. He also frees Kohl up to the possibility of finding his true love, a relationship he has avoided for years.
There are lines, phrases and thoughts placed in this story that are nothing short of brilliant. Cramer shows his own creative gifts by erecting a magnificent structure or a house of cards . He provides credibility to either scenario.
To totally enjoy Kiss of the Jewel Bird, you must open your mind to all possibilities, and you must let your imagination soar. If you do this then the golden wealth of his words will unfold before your eyes and provide you with a literary experience unlike any you have had in some time.
Kiss of the Jewel Bird is published by Mercer University Press. It contains 272 pages and sells for $18.00.
Jackie K Cooper