Marine Layers 

Content Isn't Key—as Demonstrated by Point Dume

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KATIE ARNOLDI'S NOVEL Point Dume boasts content many will find interesting: the untimely death of surf culture and the desecration of the California coastal towns that fostered it, the inner workings of the Mexican drug cartel, and rampant adultery. And content is key, right?

Or is it delivery? While Arnoldi's book has the basis for a good read, her approach and development don't support her story. Arnoldi juggles first-person accounts of five characters, four of whom are living and sleeping with each other in a beach community recently overrun with an insurgence of wealth; the fifth is a poor Mexican named Felix who has been shipped to the area to tend a cartel-run marijuana grow site. The chapters jump haphazardly between these characters, most of whom possess the descriptive prowess of eighth graders, and thus the story is drowned in a glassy sea of surface observations.

Pablo, the 35-year-old pot poacher and lifelong resident of Point Dume, is easily the savior of the book. He speaks directly to the reader about the history of the community and the land; while the conversation is not exactly profound, it helps to flesh out a storyline that's otherwise superficial and confused.

The best part of the book is the undoubtedly the end, when everything unhallowed collapses into the fiery furnace; the mountains, flanked with dried chaparral and Santa Ana winds, erupt in flames that burn all of the sprawling mansions and illegal pot farms to the ground. May this book suffer a similar fate.

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