Stone Junction by Jim Dodge

Sean joined them that evening in their temporarily abandoned subject for the year, great modern novels. The text was Stone Junction (1990) by Jim Dodge. He gripped his pen in his good hand, while the gloved hand rested on the arm of the chair.

‘It’s about a boy, Daniel Pearse, his training in AMO – the Alliance of Magicians and Outlaws – and his attempt to track down his mother’s killer. Mostly it follows him as he moves from teacher to teacher, picking up different skills along the way, each teacher more absurd than the last. There’s also a quest to steal a gigantic, spherical diamond.’

‘Tell me more about the teachers – what do you mean absurd?’ said Dave.

‘I’ll give you a few examples,’ said Sean, ‘There’s Volta, a magician capable of vanishing into thin air. There’s also Seamus, the poet, anarchist, and alchemist with a mysteriously disfigured hand,’ Sean looked thoughtfully at his own gloved hand. ‘These two are major characters, and may even be implicated in Daniel’s mother’s death, but there are others too., such as Mott Stocker, the 260 pound substance abuser and rocker, and Bad Bobby, the gambler who’ll play any man from any land at any game he can name.’

‘Would it be right to say,’ said Dave, ‘It’s a sort of fable set in modern day America? Whereby the hero meets all manner of weird characters who use magic and other devices to help him in his quest?’

‘Yes, I suppose you’re correct,’ nodded Sean, ‘And as for how it reads, well it’s funny, sad, and devastatingly cool – as well as a well-written tale of adventure. It’s enjoyable, but neither as shocking nor as remarkable as the blurb would have you believe.’

Sean had to cut short his appraisal of what he would have claimed to be a fine work at this point, as the low drone of a helicopter cut in from outside. He ushered them toward the door.

‘Let’s go,’ he said, ‘Right now or we’re dead.’

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