“Riki Moss debuts with a wonderfully original comic novel about art both fine and martial, about self-betrayal and redemption through love, beautifully written and full of memorable characters. Her louche, bohemian Vermont is captured in full color, like Anne Tyler’s Baltimore and Richard Russo’s New York.”
—Michael Gruber, author of The Book of Air and Shadows
Based on the life of unconventional aikido master Terry Dobson, this novel tells of two souls meeting at a mutually calamitous turning point. Fatherless, pushed by his tyrannical mother to the edge of violence, Dobson turns to aikido to save his life. Twenty-five years later, he returns to the wreckage of his ancestral summer home on Lake Champlain; too tainted to train, too blocked to write, and too dispirited to deal with his declining health. He considers disappearing into the icy waters, but instead hits a cow in a cornfield where an artist is chasing her dog . . . Told through two interwoven timelines—one following his life through Park Avenue and the Bowery, Vermont, Japan, and California; the other tracking his relationship with the artist—this profoundly entertaining novel features a memorable assortment of seekers and gurus (real and fictional), spiritual dogs, performance artists, psychic plumbers, New Age healers, suicidal parents, old lovers; Ronald Reagan, Robert Bly, Leonard Cohen, Ram Dass; and the land itself, as compelling as any character.