Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Hannah’s Dream"

Diane Hammond, the author of Going to Bend and Homesick Creek, is the recipient of an Oregon Arts Commission literary fellowship and served as a spokesperson for the Free Willy Keiko Foundation and the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Hannah’s Dream, and reported the following:
What to say about page 69 of Hannah’s Dream, especially because it’s actually a half-page and, moreover, the end of a chapter?

Because Hannah’s Dream has an ensemble cast rather than one main character, short of a party scene there’s no way that any single page, be it page 69 or page 269, can be representative of the book as a whole. It does, however, capture Truman, a late thirty-something single father, and Miles, a pot-bellied pig, passing a late night together. Truman mulls over his now ex-wife’s unreasonable expectations of both him and their young son Winslow, for whom the pig has been purchased—one of Truman’s few rash acts. Miles, the pig, is brand-new to Truman’s household, and though he knows nothing about pigs, Truman sits awake with him so that he won’t feel homesick or bereft.

There we have it, pig and man, a small island of light in an otherwise dark world.

In the pages of Hannah’s Dream, a book about an elephant and her aging keeper, many evenings are spent in the company of animals, especially by Sam Brown, Hannah’s keeper, and Hannah, the Asian elephant entrusted to his care by an eccentric Edwardian cross-dressing woman forty one years before. The bonds between Hannah and Sam are unbreakable. Because Hannah is the zoo’s sole elephant, and too large to bring home at night, Hannah, Sam and his wife Corinna spend many evenings watching TV together in the elephant barn. Similar human-to-animal bonds of love exist elsewhere in the book: between an artist and his three housecats; between Miles and Truman’s son Winslow. And throughout the book, borders of appropriate behavior are frequently blurred and, at times, ignored altogether.

In the end, in the worlds of Bladenham, Washington and the Max L. Biedelman Zoo, goodness is an attainable goal.
Browse inside Hannah’s Dream.

Learn more about the book and author at Diane Hammond's website.

--Marshal Zeringue