Mooney in Flight
Bruce Ducker
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Buy *Mooney in Flight* online

Mooney in Flight

Bruce Ducker
MacAdam/Cage Publishing
398 pages
October 2003
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Left a ramshackle house on a distant island by a recently deceased friend, Leonard Mooney takes the opportunity to pack up his belongings, leave his current wife and inhabit the posthumous abode. Like any middle-aged man in flight from reality and his personal demons, Mooney romanticizes a new identity as a willing hermit, armed with plenty of staples and a few cases of rum.

The island house has been gradually succumbing to the elements, but it is outfitted with the basics of survival and Mooney makes elaborate plans for the endless days that lie ahead. Unused to the suffocating heat on the tiny island, Mooney is soon prone to rum-soaked naps that lead to wakeful nights. He decides to explore his kingdom at night, hacking through resistant brush with a flashlight in hand. He finds a small shack and thinks he sees a light shining from it. Like a terrified Robinson Crusoe coming upon Friday’s footprints, Mooney hightails it back to the house, shivering in fear. Later, he discovers that the light was a figment of his imagination -- a shaft of moonlight.

When visitors actually arrive, they land in an airplane. Mooney thinks he is industriously clearing land with a bulldozer found in the shack to stay occupied on the long nights. Instead, Mooney has unwittingly formed an airstrip, extending an open invitation to unwanted company. His visitors drop in whenever they need to disappear for a day or two, their new airstrip a welcome convenience.

Meanwhile, Mooney slogs through the days, spending endless hours ruminating about the past, his ex-wife Reba, his son and daughter. Clearly Mooney has led less than a satisfying life, toiling at a spectacularly mundane job; he deserted his family in spirit long before his physical escape to the island. Bruce Ducker's fanciful, meandering tale, Mooney in Flight, follows his journey home again. Mooney’s adventures range from delusion to fear to outrage as he attempts to sort through an exceptionally well-squandered life.

There is always hope, even for such a ragged soul. In Mooney’s case, hope comes in the form of a young girl, Arden, one of the island visitors who is near the age of his own daughter. In many ways Arden’s worldview reeducates Mooney, changing his self-obsession to introspection. Arden plants a seed of hope and challenges Mooney to meet her expectations. Mooney is indeed in flight, moving away from everything that gives life meaning, seeking solace in the endless bottom of a bottle. Through Arden’s endeavors, Mooney thinks to fly toward life again, in a most unpredictable and ingenious manner.

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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