Nearly eleven years ago, a month after he sauntered out of the woods
and followed me home, I learned that Sebastian Cat had been used [and abused] by a neighbor as a breeder. It seems that most
of the strays that now populate our neighborhood were/are probably his. Not to mention the numerous other kittens that were
sold to and by local pet stores. By the time I had ascertained this nugget [pardon the pun] of information, I had had him
neutered and de-flea-ed. And he became my bestest buddy, closet confident, and co-trainer of FrankieBernard, who joined our
little family six months later.
So, in his honor – and, of course, that of my own
Dad who has long since passed on to God’s Great Library – we celebrate Father’s Day. Well, at least I do.
I don’t think Sebastian has any idea why he gets fed a half-can of Albacore only once a year. Or why I let him outside
for a jaunt around the neighborhood to, I hope, visit his progeny. [Don’t worry, folks, he always returns an hour or
so later, mewling at the front door to be let in and then meowing for a good ten minutes about his adventures. Then he heads
upstairs to use his litter box before taking a long nap in the soft folds of my duvet. Probably dreaming of his next “allowed”
Now this vignette has little to do with the book I am
reviewing today which is, appropriately enough, a perfect read for Father’s Day. Because… one of the major themes
of Pirata: A Novel by Patrick Hasburgh is fatherhood. What it means to parent a child, regardless of whether you sired him/her. Bloodlines
to Nick Lutz, the main protagonist, do not matter.
Nick is an one-eyed ex-pat living
in a small village on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico where he spends most of his time surfing and interacting with the
native residents. How did he lose his eye? Well, back when he was a new car sales manager on southern California,
he was shot in the head by an alleged carjacker. The injury caused Nick to have seizures. And it was a seizure that caused
Nick to slam into a tree, nearly killing his seven-year-old son. Well, after that, he abandoned his family [the marriage was
falling apart anyway] and wound up in Mexico. Surfing and, until Meagan came along, feeling rather remorseful and sorry for
himself. So, with a black eyepatch… he is dubbed pirata , the Spanish word for pirate and the eponymous title
of this scathingly brilliant novel.
It is evident that Nick is an incurably addicted surfer.
The waves that pound Mexican coast are nearly the best surfing waves in the world… which he daily tackles with Winsor,
his on-again, off-again surfing buddy, who… well… Let me put it this way… is a salient, pivotal character
in the narrative. When Winsor is whacked in the head with a hammer [but I won’t tell you why…] by the enigmatic
Meagan, his paramour, Nick [literally] hooks up with her.
Meagan has two Irish-twin sons, Jade and Obsidian. Half brothers by two different fathers. And it is through these
two boys, who remind him of his own son, that Nick learns the art of parenting; how to be a good father. He takes them surfing
and then to a surfing competition. He explains the facts of life in a rather poignant and funny scene that nearly brought
tears to my eyes.
For, you see, despite his problematic
life, Nick is a gentle, kind, soul with a droll sense of humor and a penchant for occasionally getting in the way of and scraps
with one El Jefe, a nasty Mexican law-enforcer who carries a large bamboo whipping stick and an even bigger streak of cruelty.
Thus, while Nick had hoped to find peace and tranquility in Mexico, he discovers the exact
opposite, becoming embroiled in Meagan’s crime of passion and enmeshed in her sons’ lives. To the point where
he begins to think – and feel – that he is their stepfather. While he is replacing his affection of his son, Marshall,
for those of Jade and Obsidian, Nick reveals the true essence of what fatherhood is all about. Hence, Pirata is the
most apropos read and blog post for this year’s celebration of Dads…
its 340 gripping pages, there are not only thrilling adventures, a few fine touches of mystery, along with one or two “adult”
scenes, and several surprise reveals, but also a few lessons of taking loving and caring responsibility for children –
no matter whose they are. Lessons that should be, must be heeded by everyone espeically in these most troubling times of gut-wrenching
inhumane and insensitive cruelty that is irresponsibly being promulgated by our government. Need I say more? Except, in the
eyes of this richly crafted character, sons need fathers. And Fathers need sons. Together, not apart… A lesson that
equally applies to all mothers and all children. Regardless of ethnicity, color, religion, or biological background.
Pleases note: I dodn’t mean to be so preachy, but….
I am deeply appalled, saddened, and blood-boiling angry at what is happening today on our borders. It is inexcusable. And,
I guess, good writing, such as that which I found in this novel, brings out my passionate side…
Hasburgh is a sensitive and stylistically fluid writer who he has penned the scripts for the immensely
popular 21 Jump Street 1987 to 1991 television series. I found episodes on YouTube, which are just as captivating
to watch as it is to read Hasburgh’s second novel. And just as he does in the police series, this author wastes no time
in diving into the very essences of his characters’ souls. Not only has he captured Nick’s angst and tumultuous
adult “coming of age” thoughts and experiences, but he has also rendered the inner thoughts and being of young
boys, as seen through Nick’s eyes, taking their first steps into adulthood. And, then, [***SPOILER ALERT***] there is
the matter of his now thirteen-year-old son, Marshall…
Set in the backdrop of daily living in Mexico, with its ethos, politics, and cultural mores, and equally captivating
supporting characters – and you have a novel worthy of foregoing the chores for an afternoon or two – as I did
– for a great read.
Now, as you all know, I rarely review a book before it
is scheduled to be released. Okay, you got me. This is the second time in the seven-year reign of this literary blog…
But, I just couldn’t wait to tell you about this tour de force that will surely be one of the greater Summer 2018 must
reads. It is slated to be released on June 26th. I urge you to purchase it, read it, and share it with your friends,
your adult children, and, if they are still with us, you parents. Especially your Dad.
This being written, I am going to spend some time with Sabastian [and FrankieBernard] to fondly recall how great my
own Dad was. Among his many wonderful qualities, he was an avid reader like myself… Oh, how he would have loved this
novel. And, oh, how I dearly miss him.
Happy Father’s Day!
Enjoy the read!