Ernest Hekkanen's From a Town Now Dreaming (New Orphic Publishers, 332 pages, $20 paper) is based on Dr. Kevin Koski's first-person journal account of bizarre happenings in Blazon, Wyoming. These happenings include monks juggling, flies clustering into word formations, a baby born with a moth-shaped birthmark and webbed feet, and an escaping afterbirth. (It flees down a hospital corridor chased by a dog that disappears.) There are morphic fields, a Dreaming Stick that sends messages, and appearances by St. Francis of Assisi, the Black Madonna of Blazon, a dead chieftain named Buffalo Thunder, an aviatrix, and a midget, to mention only a few. Hekkanen has even written himself in, as a character named Ernesto O'Hekkaninistein.
If all this sounds like fun, it isn't. As the novel's narrator says about Dr. Koski's journals, they are a "very lengthy, plodding read." The same holds true for From a Town Now Dreaming. Hekkanen burdens his narrative with so much pseudo-philosophical weight that it sinks like a stone, and the whole tale is so ridiculously far-fetched that it's impossible to suspend one's disbelief. A Tom Robbins novel this is definitely not.