Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?
In my single days, whenever I was nursing a broken heart or a job disaster, I plotted a move to Colorado. It became my reflex place where I dreamed I wore cowboy boots (turquoise and red ones), spent time riding a horse on a mountaintop (forgetting that the only time I ever rode was on a trail near my suburban NJ home where my horse was the one that meandered off the trail into the woods with me ducking trees and brush) and fell in love with some outdoorsy guy who did something downright dangerous like cow roping for a living. I think this fantasy worked because it was the antithesis of my world in Manhattan, where I worked at a fashion magazine.
Pehaps this is why I read IS THAT A MOOSE IN YOUR POCKET? with special delight. Here Jen Brenner is working at Technology Standard in San Francisco when she intercepts an e-mail from her boss and realizes she is being passed over for a coveted promotion. At the same time she is dealing with the end of a relationship with a guy she thought was THE ONE --- a relationship that actually ended two years ago, but keeps gnawing at her.
Through a friend she meets the editor of the Meredith Gazette in Meredith, Montana and when it's time to plot a new life course, an opportunity at the Gazette provides the perfect leave of absence. Thus City Jen packs up her Subaru and heads for the hills to become Country Jen.
Her first assignment for the paper has her covering the causes of an environmental disaster that results in fish being killed in the river near the local paper plant. From there Jen finds herself involved in a mystery with deadly consequences for a lot more than aquatic creatures.
She also finds herself involved with local EPA agent Bruce Mortensen, an older man with a lot of baggage, including one daughter who does not want Jen to be part of his life. If the story were not complicated enough already, factor in that Bruce's ex-wife's dad is the owner of the paper company and she is doing her own sheet dance with the company's business manager.
While Jen and Bruce clearly have a lot of good stuff between them, Jen ends up in the wrong places at the wrong times once too often, and when her old boss offers her the promotion she once coveted at Technology Standard, she returns to San Francisco.
In this section of the book Green hits a strong chord. Jen is telling the story of her Montana life for "the sixth or seventh storytelling session" of the "sanitized version" and "the ball of hurt in my chest began, slowly, to loosen and unwind." Any woman who has gone through a heartbreak knows all too well what that moment feels like. At this moment readers see that the Jen who arrives back in the city by the Bay is not the same woman who drove to Montana months before. She's stronger and more set on living life for herself and not others.
So does Bruce come back? How does the story end? You'll have to read to find out.
One more note. Green employs e-mail chapter openers in the book, which work as a terrific creative device to drive the story forward. Readers can catch up on what's going on with other characters or Jen by reading these bits that save a lot of extra description and dialogue from the actual story. It's A very clever way to handle material that would drag down the pace.
IS THAT A MOOSE IN YOUR POCKET? is one fun read. For me, it made me realize I still want those turquoise boots with red stitching.
Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on November 4, 2003
Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?
- Publication Date: November 4, 2003
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Delta
- ISBN-10: 0385337175
- ISBN-13: 9780385337175