A SALTY PIECE OF LAND reads like a literary version of dueling
banjos: cowboys and fishermen vying for the title of the World's
Greatest Storyteller. It's a tough call since everyone in this book
has a story or two to tell, each one a little wilder than the next.
It's about dreamers and survivors, dreamers who survive and
survivors who dream. Tully Mars's adventures have a magical feel,
from the Island of Lost Boys in Punta Margarita, Mexico, to the
tree house bar high atop a giant Banyon tree.
The story begins when Thelma Barston buys the ranch Tully has been
working on and turns it into a doggie dude ranch. Tully responds by
throwing a massage table through the window in a subtle gesture
that says "up yours" and takes off on his horse, Mr. Twain. Soon
bounty hunters hired by the evil Thelma, who saw no poetry in
Tully's behavior, are pursuing him across the country. When he can
ride no further, our hero signs on as a deckhand with Captain Kirk
on his aging cargo boat.
Cleopatra Highbourne rescues Tully from one of his misadventures.
She sets before him a challenge that would put a grin on the face
of any landlocked cowboy with a hankering for the sea. Nearing her
102nd birthday, and sensing that time may be running out for her,
she wants him to restore an old lighthouse on a "salty piece of
land" in the southern Bahamas known as Cayo Loco. The easy part
will be rebuilding the dilapidated 150-year-old structure. The hard
part will be finding the special lens needed to shine a beacon
across the sea as it shone with the original Fresnel lens, known as
a bulls-eye. That light could be seen for twenty miles and the
source was a work of art and engineering that has never been
duplicated. So begins the adventure to "rekindle the soul of light"
in that one particular harbor.
Each person that Tully meets has a story or two or three to tell.
There's IxNay, Solomom, Johnny Red Dust, Sammy Raye Coconuts, Tex
Sex, and Donna Kay Dunbar. Some of their tales are long, some are
short, some are happy; all are fanciful and poignant. The detours
will often sidetrack you until you realize that sidetracking is
what this book is all about. It has more to do with process than
As expected, this singer of songs, this adventurer extraordinaire,
this hippie Peter Pan who we know as Jimmy Buffett, has a way with
words. Like his ballads, his books will make you smile, sometimes
quite loudly. We are not talking great literature here --- we are
talking a little getaway with our favorite Parrothead.
A Salty Piece of Land