Roy Meyers, Dolphin Boy

I guess it's always been this way: come up with a cool enough concept, and you might be able to find someone willing to bet on your novel. Of course, "someone" is now the self-publishing industry, just like it used to be vanity presses and (long before that) subscription publishing, but there was a brief but mythical period where actual presses might publish the craziest things, just because it thumped onto the right person's desk after the right combination of cocktails.

So yeah, in 1967 someone just had to fall in love with Roy Meyers' manuscript for Dolphin Boy: "The gentle dolphins knew exactly what to do when a small human baby fell into their midst," as the back cover puts it. (In other words, it is in no way affiliated with the Arab/Israeli documentary Dolphin Boy.)

Basically, a baby lands in the ocean where no human is able to save it, and the dolphins decide to look after it. Though obviously he understands that he's not a dolphin but a human, he's raised as a dolphin, and grows into the manliest manly man ever. Serious conflict arises, predictably, when young John finds himself among humans for what might as well be the first time: will he be able to overcome human deceit, ignorance, and destructiveness, and retain the dolphins' openness, compassion, and wisdom?

And I'm not going to give you any spoilers, but … that's because you probably expect most of them already. Romance, inheritance, pirate treasure: tell me what you'd see as predictable, and I'll tell you both what your obsessions are and that it's betwixt these covers.

Plus it's the first volume of a trilogy, so it ends with almost nothing resolved, less even than with your usual trilogy. Meyers is keenly interested in dolphins and in whale welfare, so I wanted to like Dolphin Boy for that reason, and he's thoughtful about educational theory, but ain't no way I'm reading two more novels like this one just to get whatever payback there might eventually be. Disappointing.


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