Spell of the Pelicans

Spell of the Pelicans

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James Cooper, my father, passed away before he could write this foreword. He had been terminally ill for the entirety of his published writing career, but wrote and created tirelessly. It was his wish for his poems and stories to survive him, to leave us with great, enduring beauty in the wake of such pain.

Though this book is not about him, strictly speaking, there is so much of him in it. The story draws inspiration from his experiences: as a clinical psychologist, son, father, husband, aquatic adventurer and lifeguard, seeker of ancient wisdom, and keen student of the human condition. But beyond his experiences, my father's qualities and the essence of who he was flows through his writing. He appears to me as a river, winding and playful, bubbling with a whimsical curiosity, a tributary feeding into a deep and patient lagoon that feeds into the ocean, a place to which he had great love and connection. From somewhere beneath the surface of what we know, secrets, insights, mysteries and truths drift elegantly to the surface, bringing forth hidden meaning and an inquisitive smile.

One of the last things my father said to me before he died was this: "Always remember, I am with you in so many ways." This book is one of those ways. May you know and appreciate him more through his stories and poems. For truly, in the simple joy of perfectly buttered popcorn, in the wonder of fireworks blooming overhead, as well as in life's most enduring, transcendent truths: Always remember, he is with us, in so many ways, now and forever.

Cameron Cooper
October 14, 2018
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Product details

  • Paperback | 140 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 8mm | 186g
  • English
  • 2 Illustrations; Illustrations, black and white
  • 1732663114
  • 9781732663114

Review quote

"With surprise after surprise up his sleeve, Cooper has invented and choreographed his own sleight of hand genre in this comic and dead serious debut novella in which select beaches of Southern California figure among the caste of characters. A kind of "Dinner with Andre" taken outdoors, Pierce and Morissy, two psychotherapists in search of the truth about what matters in life and in their lives find and lose one another in a dance- like dialogue that ranges far and wide and plunges deep and deeper, successfully weaving the spell referred to in the title. Their search is made all the more taut and poignant by the oddity of their initial encounter: Morissy has faked his own death in a boating accident and is discovered by his protégé resurrected as a street vendor dispensing wisdom with bags of popcorn. And if that surprises you, you ain't seen nothin' yet. "

--Laura Geringer Bass, author of The Girl With More Than One Heart

"Cooper's psychoanalyst character Benjamin Morrisy observes that to 'appreciate the art of a person, ' one has to recognize that she is 'more than the sum of her parts'. Spell of the Pelicans is a stunning work of fiction in which Cooper's art is indeed even more affecting and compelling than the sum of its own extraordinary parts. It is a psychological thriller, a buddy road trip, a melancholic meditation on the natural world, on music, and art, and the wellsprings of love, sadness and loss. And it is more. It is a compendium of wisdom gleaned from a lifetime as a psychotherapist and as a poet, offered with a unique comic and lyrical sensibility. It will make you laugh and cry."

--Anthony Bass, Ph.D., Editor in Chief,
Psychoanalytic Dialogues, The International Journal of Relational Perspectives

"In the first few pages of J.L. Cooper's novella Spell of the Pelicans, his protagonist, Hatley Pierce, listens to Corelli's Concerti Grossi while standing, "transfixed," before a gray ocean on the Laguna Beach sand. Throughout this intriguing novella, in the rhythmic and melodious flow of Cooper's words, James gets closer to expressing the mystery, reverence and elegance of Arcangelo Corelli's other-worldly compositions, than I would have thought possible. It is a beautiful marriage of sound and meaning.

James's keen eye notices details, free from the burdens of judgments, good or bad, right or wrong, Free from certainty, he sees and hears as it appears. Describing each cove and beach, client and friend, his illusive mentor, as they are, in exquisite and illuminating detail.

Explore these beaches, as two psychotherapists work to uncover who they and their clients really are. Oh and listen to a little Corelli while you're at it."

--Brian Mann, musician
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