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Orchid Jetsam
Dee Goda
$15
176 pages
ISBN 1-931157-00-6

 

Subtitled "A Detective Novel Series," Orchid Jetsam includes two closely related mysteries, "Orchid Jetsam" and "Clear Land" (the latter dedicated to the great Japanese film actor, Toshiro Mifune). In the first, San Francisco homicide detective, Grace Abe--inhabited by the ghost of a U.S. Marine who had been an undercover assassin--runs as 'someone else' within her own frame in public spaces where people are out becoming ill in crowds. The epidemic, which at first appears as much psychic as physical, is caused by hemlock spread in food and in the public transit system. Grace and her engaging partners, officers Andrew Chen and Cloe O'Brien, investigate a series of related killings that are ravaging the city. A killer wears a dog's head. In the second, another series of killings begins, in which the victim's intestines are left lying on the outside of their frames. Detective Abe, resembling a combination of Sherlock Holmes and a wild comic book character caught in virtual reality, is addicted to a drug whose effect is a clear elation as she's running. Throughout the book we see San Francisco at present, seeing it as if we were in a space running. Seeing through Grace's eyes? One's eyes reading see as if one is running, which transforms the place.

Biographical information about Dee Goda is not available. However, readers familiar with the writings of the widely admired Leslie Scalapino may suspect that she had something to do with the writing of Orchid Jetsam. Their suspicions will be supported by the fact that Grace Abe, Cloe O'Brien, and Andrew Chen all appear in Scalapino's recently published R-hu (Atelos, 2000). This evidence, however, is circumstantial. But if it is indeed the case that Dee Goda is Leslie Scalapino, it is appropriate to say something about Scalapino's influential works, both as a writer and as a teacher. She is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, essays, and plays. Among them are that they were at the beach--aeolotropic series (1985), way (1988), The Return of Painting, The Pearl, and Orion: A Trilogy (1991), How Phenomena Appear to Unfold (1991), Goya's L.A., a play (1994), Defoe (1994), The Front Matter, Dead Souls (1996), New Time (1996), The Public World/Syntactically Impermanence (1999), and R-hu (2000). She has taught at Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, and Naropa, and she is on the faculty of Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate Program of the Arts. She lives in Berkeley, California.