Duncan Leland's business, a factory which converts fish waste from the local fishing fleet into commercial fertilizer, is struggling financially and he's having to contemplate a connection with the shadiest citizen in town to save it. His marriage is on very shaky ground and his wife has kicked him out so he's moved back home to live with his nutty mother and oddball brother. His life is not looking or feeling like much of a success. So when he sees the words God Help Us traced into the sand below his office window, he rushes down to obliterate them, fearful of their meaning and the bad publicity. While on the shoreline, he finds a wounded seagull tangled up in a plastic six-pack holder and proceeds to rescue it without knowing that his actions are being filmed and will land on YouTube, turning him and the gull into internet sensations.
Duncan is a rather undirected dreamer and he might just be the most normal character in the novel. His mother is usually three sheets to the wind on homemade wine. She's unwilling to leave her large ramshackle home and directs Duncan's brother's sailing career from the top story of the large house as he enters and fails to win local regatta after regatta. Duncan's best friend, Slocum, is a chef whose seafood-based creations are beyond strange and completely inedible. His employees at the factory seem undecided whether to support Duncan or to undermine his efforts to keep the factory solvent, with one woman, Annuncia, loudly driving business away with her militantly environmental screed.
Each of the characters who make an appearance on the page here is eccentric and kooky and the multiple plot lines are definitely over the top. But there are weighty and important issues buried in the black humor: the human impact on the world's oceans, infertility which might be caused by our careless disposal (and over-reliance on) plastics, overfishing and the economic impact of this, to name a few. The sheer number of plot lines and the too easy resolution of some of them strain the reader a bit and the end revelation about Duncan's father takes the novel into the realm of just a little too much. Still, overall this was an enjoyable read which shines a light on the possible toll our continued inattentiveness to our environment could exact.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to review.