Eddie Plum, who insists he’s been unjustifiably committed to a California psychiatric hospital, manages to finally escape after fourteen years of incarceration to start his life anew. On the run, he holes up in a sheltered barrio on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean owned by his wealthy but unsympathetic father. Here he meets Sweets, the telepathic dog, laments the loss of Sofia, his madhouse lover, and plays the horses at the Del Mar Racetrack. Eventually he meets up with an old friend, Shelly Hubbard, a fellow horseplayer, record collector/dealer, and hardcore loner, who tells him about his brother, Donny, dead at the age of eighteen from a tragic dive off a thirty-foot La Jolla sea cliff known as the Clam. Eddie discovers a family secret and wants to help, but by then he’s already embroiled in the psychotic incident with the Tijuana prostitutes, the madhouse lover, and the police, who are hot on his tail. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride has nothing on Whirlaway a hilarious novel of escaped mental patients, horseplayers, and record collectors.
“At twenty-seven years old I was not emotionally equipped for living under lock and key behind sixteen-foot cyclone fences and having my ass stabbed every three days with drugs that turned my brains to buttermilk.” -Eddie Plum
To read the excerpt...Forward
Poe Ballantine: The TNB Self-Interview
By TNB Fiction
April 10, 2018
The last time we talked we learned you were born in a log cabin and the illegitimate son of the Queen of England, what good that did anyone is hard to say,...Forward
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy...Forward
Cousin Fuzzy Meets “Whirlaway” by Poe Ballantine
At the Gallup, New Mexico, bus station, just for the heck of it, I asked the clerk behind the counter where the bus did not go. He was amused and I think somewhat intrigued when he...Forward
AFTER 20 YEARS OF RAMBLING I BROKE DOWN AND WROTE A NOVEL
POE BALLANTINE ON THE MANY ROADS TRAVELED TO PUBLICATION
I set out on the road at the age of 18, a hitchhiking trip from the suburbs of my hometown of San Diego that turned into a...Forward
Whirlaway is a fever dream of my favorite things: horse racing, records, booze, insanity, and women.
What a strange and crazed comedic ride. Ballantine’s writing is like no other.
- Willy Vlautin
- Author of The Free
Poe Ballantine’s prose cuts right to the bone (the one that’s stuck in America’s throat), but manages to preserve not only the sweetest meat but the barbecue sauce, as well. Mark Twain would have admired his wit, and had Oscar Wilde read him, he would have bought an old Ford pickup and moved to Nebraska the day he got out of the slammer, hoping that some of his style rubbed off on him. A book without style is like a swan without feathers—it’s just another plucked chicken—but this new one of Ballantine’s is in its funky way majestic as it zigzags downstream. Poe Ballantine is the most soulful, insightful, funny, and altogether luminous “under-known” writer in America. He knocks my socks off, even when I’m barefoot.
- Tom Robbins
- Author of Tibetan Peach Pie
Poe Ballantine is deceptive. You’re floating along on the darkly comedic surface of this novel, enjoying the strange ride, but then the undercurrents will grab you. Under the humor is pain and beauty and hope. Moving and original.
- Gin Phillips
- Author of Fierce Kingdom
The happiest book about mental illness, murder, loss, and disfigurement you will ever read. I loved it.
- Brian Juenemann
- Executive Director, Marketing, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association
Ballantine walks a wry tightrope here, imbuing his debauched characters with the drunken nobility of Steinbeck’s “boys,” not to mention a healthy dose of gonzo angst. What results is a wanton misadventure that often flips from laughter to tears on a dime. Bukowski and his ilk might appreciate this oddball version of the hero’s journey, soaked in beer and melancholia.
- Kirkus Reviews