By Bill Flynn
Teacher’s Comments: An original and earnest work.
When I first received the Feathery, I was afraid that it was yet another golf novel in which a magical talisman turns a mediocre player into a tour prodigy. What I found instead was an altogether different sort of story. Yes, there’s the player who rises from obscurity to the top of the game. But there’s also murder, kidnapping and obsessed collectors of golf antiquities.
The novel follows the lives of two juvenile delinquent youths who are reformed by an old Scottish golf pro and make their way to the PGA Tour—Scott as a player; Matt as a caddy. When the old man dies, he leaves Scott his golf collection, including a priceless feathery ball. The ball attracts the attention of some very unsavory characters, and the game is afoot.
It’s a very original book, written earnestly by Bill Flynn. At times, it can even be charming. There are, however, a couple of things that keep me from giving it a wholehearted endorsement.
First, I thought large portions of the novel felt rushed. Scenes ended far sooner than I would have liked. Too often, instead of letting a scene or relationship unfold, the omniscient voice of the author just explains away the events in question.
The other is the tendency of the characters to make long, stilted speeches. In a way, that’s related to my first criticism. There were some parts that reminded me of those 1950s science fiction movies where the action stops while the “scientist” takes five minutes to explain the pseudo physics behind the gadget that—deus ex mechanica—will save them from the monster.
Both of these criticisms, I think, stem from the same basic problem. The author was for my tastes too often in the expository mode, as opposed to the creative, narrative and descriptive. I sometimes felt as though I was listening to a lecturer, rather than a storyteller.
And finally, there’s a subplot involving gamblers that just seems out of place and totally improbable. It wasn’t necessary to involve an entirely new group of villains, since the original miscreants could easily have served to accomplish the same plot device.
Still, in spite of this, Bill Flynn exceeded my expectations with The Feathery. I’m glad I read the book.