Derek Winkler describes himself as the editor of an obscure trade publication, much like Otis Wilson, the main character in his well received début novel, “Pitouie”.
Fresh out of school with a degree in journalism, Otis took a temporary job with Waste Insight magazine. Seven years later he's still there, with his hoped-for career in serious journalism as intangible as his relationship with his current girlfriend.
When asked by cynical veteran editor Merle to write up yet another dreary press release for the magazine, Otis sees a glimmer of hope in his future. A chance for a real story.
Pitouie is a distant, a VERY distant South Seas island with a unique proposal for the mega-corporations who are always on the look out for new places to dump their toxic waste. Pitouie wants to offer them something a little extra special, if they're prepared to pay.
Alternating chapter on chapter for around the first half of the book, is the story of Lars, another disaffected young man who has drifted into a job with bleak prospects.
Lars works as a radar operator at a US/Canadian Distant Early Warning station on the icy Canadian coastline during the nineteen seventies, keeping watch for Russian bombers that have been rendered obsolete by ballistic missile technology.
This earlier portion of the story is perhaps the more interesting tale, and Lars the more fully portrayed character.
It's impossible to say too much about the plot without giving the game away, and there are games aplenty in play. What remains to be seen is who emerges the winner.
Derek Winkler has an assured grasp as a writer, with an excellent turn of phrase. The story relies on wit and cleverness, with characters progressing just enough to advance the plot without getting in the way of the story.
As a bonus, the language and tone of the work is restrained enough that it would make a very good book for discussion in class for ages from early teens and up, raising as it does many relevant issues about global waste disposal in a way which is never boring.