The Monday Book: Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

etta-and-otto-and-russell-and-james-9781476755687_lgLet me start by saying: I don’t like magical realism. Never have, never will. By gosh and by golly, I want to know what’s REALLY happening in a book, and to whom.

So why did I like this book? Beats me.

Well, first of all, it had a good introduction: a dear friend loaned it to me. One sort of feels obligated to give things more chances than otherwise in that situation, doesn’t one? Because when I read the words “magical realism” on the back, I thought, Nah. But Teri loaned it to me. Teri has good taste.

And then I really kinda liked it. Regular readers know what a sucker I am for good characters. Etta and James are amazing. Etta is the 80+year-old heroine who starts walking east across Canada. On the way she meets up with a talking coyote named James (he only talks to her) who may or may not be there. As Etta’s fame grows by newspaper and radio account of the crazy woman walking across Canada, she and James talk more and more.

I was hooked.

Russell and Otto are Etta’s two loves, Otto her husband, Russell their mutual best friend. Except when you get to the end of the book, who is who kinda all meshes together in something that would be obscene in a French setting, but just takes a sharp dive away from reality in this Canadian one. The sparse, almost bleak writing and the sweet, sometimes sappy sentimental, sometimes bitter and scary story compliment one another.

The end is frustrating for people like me. WHO? WHAT? WHY? Ah, never mind, just enjoy the ride. Or in this case, walk. Two paws up for Etta and Otto and Russell and James, and the story they share between them.