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Novel Talking is a memoir of America's bicentennial year spent in a log cabin in West Virginia by a shipwrecked bachelor PhD who examines the relation of television and marijuana to reading and writing in search of the Christ-calling that will preserve him beyond his thirties and give him a spouse and family.
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When he was 16 Michael Riley wrote a science fiction story about space explorers orbiting a distant planet inhabited by a "young" and "troubled" race of "3rd class humanoids". Standard protocol to preserve and nurture emerging civilizations was for the astronauts to replace a child of the alien species with "one of ours", who could show them how to avoid self and planetary destruction. In the closing shot the departing spaceship hung like a star over a small building toward which rode three men on camels. Novel Talking takes up Riley's unusual spiritual "call" in his untenured, bachelor thirties, during the Bicentennial year, when he and his country have "outlived God" and must come to terms with the American 'sixties, particularly our modern electro-chemical substitutes for the literary culture that this Thoreauvian castaway was trained to teach.
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