The latest addition to my website is Adrian Jones Pearson‘s Cow Country. Before reviewing the book, I must say a few words about the author. I decided to read this book as it was rumoured to be by Thomas Pynchon. This theory has been debunked and, for what it is worth, Alex Shephard’s seems to me to be the most reasonable, not least, because, as he points out, A J Perry and Adrian Jones Pearson share the same initials. He points out that Perry appears to be based in Lawai. What he does not point out is that Lawai is in Kauaʻi County and that Kauaʻi is (approximately) pronounced Cow Eye, the name of the college where the book is set. When I saw mention of this book online, I contacted the publisher (which has only published this one book). I received a response from Natalie Zeldner. I contacted her at 9.56 a.m. UK time and she responded within half an hour (a record!), This means that she responded at around 5.30 a.m. if she is on the East Coast, 2.30 a.m. if on the West Coast and 11.30 p.m. if in Hawaii. Maybe US publishers are up at 2.30 and 5.30 a.m. but I would have thought 11.30 p.m. more likely. Intelius shows no record for a Natalie Zeldner and Googling reveals nothing except for a few connections with this book, which means that it fairly certain that Natalie Zeldner is a pseudonym. I also contacted the web designer but he tells me that his templates are readily available on line and has had no contact with Perry, Zeldner or Cow Eye but he has done his own research and come to no definitive conclusion. In short, I believe that Perry, Jones Pearson and Zeldner are either the same person or close associates.
As regards the book, I found it very funny. It tells the story of Cow Eye Community College, a remote US community college, in a drought-ridden area. Charlie, who seems to have no surname, is hired as the Special Projects Coordinator, with three main tasks: organising the Christmas Party, which was not held the previous year, improving the college’s woeful accreditation status and repairing the disastrous cultural divide in the college. The college is divided along all sorts of lines: meat eaters vs non meat eaters (Cow Eye Ranch, now defunct, used to be major a supplier of beef to the US); smokers vs nonsmokers; New Agers vs traditionalists; natives vs incomers; users of electric typewriters vs users of manual typewriters and many others. Most people are firmly on one side or the other, without any room for compromise. Charlie feels that he is nothing entirely, a compromiser, and he wants to change this, to be something entirely. What makes the book is its great humour. Jones Pearson satirises community colleges and, by extension, the United States; he uses a fair amount of third form/sophomoric humour and has a long line of running jokes, from Charlie’s trying to be something entirely to the US flag which, every times it appears, seems to add a star or two, starting off with twenty-three and finishing with forty-nine. It is all very funny but, behind the humour, there is clearly a serious intent, about getting on and compromise and about the nature of the United States. A lot of effort has gone into this book, not just the 540 page book, but also the various websites, including the author’s homepage, the college’s and others mentioned on my Adrian Jones Pearson page. While I admire all the effort put into it by, presumably, Perry, his pseudonyms and his associates, it is sad that he needs to do this to get this book in the public eye.