Froelich’s Lad­der

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - MEA­GAN LOGSDON

Jamie Du­c­los-your­don For­est Av­enue Press Soft­cover $15.95 (248pp) 978-1-942436-19-5

Froelich’s Lad­der de­lights with its wit and imag­i­na­tion.

Bristling with the bizarre, Jamie Du­c­los-your­don’s Froelich’s Lad­der is a fan­tas­ti­cal com­men­tary on hu­man­ity’s in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness.

Wrapped in the trap­pings of Amer­i­can tall tales and fairy tales, the prom­ise of the Amer­i­can fron­tier beck­ons Ger­man im­mi­grants Froelich and his brother, Har­ald. To­gether, they ac­quire land in Ore­gon and soon dis­cover the Very Big Tree. While Har­ald sees only a tree, the vi­sion­ary Froelich sees the tallest lad­der in the world.

The broth­ers’ ami­able part­ner­ship is torn asun­der when Har­ald takes Froelich’s love in­ter­est for his wife and fa­thers two chil­dren. Froelich shuts him­self away from the world by choos­ing to in­habit the high­est rungs of the lad­der, com­mu­ni­cat­ing via a lan­guage mod­eled on Morse code. Years pass, and Har­ald and his wife pass on, leav­ing their two chil­dren, Gordy and Binx, to tend to the lad­der alone. When Froelich goes miss­ing, Gordy as­cends the lad­der to look for him, but falls and meets Gak, a girl pre­tend­ing to be a boy. Their search for Gordy’s un­cle is fraught with Con­fed­er­ates, a busi­ness­man, and other Euro­pean im­mi­grants, all of whose ac­tions con­verge in a cli­max that re­in­forces com­mu­nity over iso­la­tion.

The Ore­gon of the novel is seen at once as beau­ti­ful and grotesque as char­ac­ters, some more tran­sient than oth­ers, flit in and out of scenes. Grue­some mur­ders and squalid liv­ing con­di­tions are jux­ta­posed with a dream­like jour­ney in a hun­gry cloud and a game of bowl­ing. The sur­real and some­times dis­jointed na­ture of the nar­ra­tive is rem­i­nis­cent of Won­der­land, and adds an­other di­men­sion of alien­ation to the nar­ra­tive, even as the char­ac­ters wrestle in­ter­nally with their own.

The lad­der it­self proves to be both a boon and a bur­den, es­pe­cially to Har­ald and then Binx, who both serve as hu­man sup­ports. Though it pro­vides an av­enue of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Froelich, it is also some­thing that must be cast off in or­der to achieve true and last­ing free­dom. And yet, though Har­ald had con­structed a ful­crum, nei­ther he nor Binx elect to use it un­til one of the story’s most emo­tional scenes.

Froelich’s Lad­der de­lights with its wit and imag­i­na­tion, re­sult­ing in a poignant yarn spun to as­sure us that we are not alone.

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