By Elwood Reid
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385497381, 368pp.)
Publication Date: July 13, 2004
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A stunning fictional imagining of legendary American folk hero D. B. Cooper's daring hijacking and its aftermath, by one of the toughest, most distinctive voices in American fiction.
On the day before Thanksgiving 1971, just as a Seattle-bound 727 from Portland, Oregon, was taking off, a man calling himself D. B. Cooper handed a note to a flight attendant that said: “I have a bomb in my briefcase.” Touching down in Washington State, where airline officials and FBI agents met his demands—$200,000 and several parachutes—the passengers were released, and Cooper ordered the pilot to chart a course for Mexico City. But somewhere over the dense Pacific Northwest woods, Cooper jumped. No trace of him was ever found.
This gutsy exploit made D. B. Cooper a legend and a folk hero, and it is the starting point for Elwood Reid's powerful examination of ways of living in America. Reid poses the question: Is it better to do one great thing in life or to grind out a righteous life? In Reid's version, D. B. Cooper is a Vietnam vet named Fitch, a man fed up with the timid course of his life and determined to do something about it. By pulling off the hijacking, he proves to himself that he is a man of destiny, capable of greatness. Or so it seems. He floats across the border to Mexico, drifting and lounging in the company of similar refugees and flotsam from the 1970s counterculture.
In a parallel narrative, newly retired FBI Agent Frank Marshall has been cut adrift and now faces decades of purposelessness. Tempted to embark on an affair with a female witness he's been protecting, bored by leisure, and haunted by cases he couldn't solve, Frank agrees to help an eager young agent to look into the still-open D. B. Cooper case.
When Fitch/Cooper, after years of cunning, exile, and silence, makes the mistake of falling for the wrong woman in Mexico, he is forced to return to America and the scene of his crime, and the two narratives intersect.
The clean, taut prose that has become Reid's hallmark and his profound understanding of what work means and what the dream of escaping work really entails, make D.B. a unique and profound work of fiction.
ELWOOD REID is the author of the novels If I Don’t Six and Midnight Sun and the story collection What Salmon Know. He has written for GQ and is a frequent contributor to Outside magazine. He lives in Montana.