It's the mid seventies, when music is music and a person's sound-system is one of the most important things they possess. A sound system, good weed, good friends, and valuable life lessons. Alexander Poole, a man who believes everyone and thing can be his teacher, values most of these things, but above all he values the truth.
Poole stumbles onto a too-good-to-be-true business opportunity. There's a new stereo shop in town and the salesman, Wayne, could sell ice to an Inuit. Pretty soon Poole is unsuspectingly selling non-brand-name junk to students on his campus, during which time he meets the gorgeous Suzie, and off campus, he meets the mysterious Dani.
Poole knows that each person he meets is a teacher for him, so he embraces (quite literally) Dani and Suzie, and is pleased to meet an elusive busker and his dog. In the mean time, Wayne, the salesman, has got in a little hot water with some of his shady business associates, and Poole's roommate Donny and Poole decide to get involved and help out. Poole tries to keep things real, but between Donny's headstrong ways, his friend Mel's pessimism, Dani's jealousy, and the weird behaviour of the busker throw the whole situation out of control. Can Poole learn his lessons without losing his head?
A classic John Vorhaus (says I, having read a grand total of two of his other books!) Poole's Paradise is a great read. It is what I've come to expect from Vorhaus: a fun, rollicking plot line with some character twists, a light-hearted and playfully written novel you can knock off in less than a week because it's such a pleasure to read. It was a bit slower paced than Texas Twist, I suspect because Poole as a character is a bit more introverted and thoughtful, but that really works in the context of the story.
Each of the characters is beautifully well rounded, and Poole's search for meaning in his life is certainly unconventional, but effortlessly developed and realistic. I think that's what I like most about this story, it's little schemes and plans and bits and pieces that make up college life, which seem simultaneously hugely important and terribly trite. Which, let's face it, is just like real life at college (or the international equivalent of). The sense of place in Poole's Paradise is fantastic, as is the sense of the time period. It's so seventies; the music, the clothes, the way the characters speak. It's grounded in time without resorting to cliches.
All in all, there's nothing I don't like about Poole's Paradise. Definitely worth reading.
I hear Christmas is coming, this would make a great gift for someone looking for a fun holiday read!
Seek out more John Vorhaus. Trust me, he's written both fiction and non-fiction (creative writing books) and they're all infused with his humour, wisdom, and easy-to-read-ness (that is not a real word.)