By Ed Cameron
Dancing Moon Press, $14.95, 188 pages
Gilmore by the Sea is a patchwork of comics and short stories centered on “the only flophouse with an ocean view and a waiting list”—the Gilmore Hotel in the Nye Beach community of Newport, Oregon. Each chapter is presented both as a comic and as a narrative. The author, who used to live in the building, shows how the sixties gravitated and lingered there before the Gilmore was reborn as the literary-oriented Sylvia Beach Hotel. Locals remember these characters from Cameron’s cartoons in The Gilmore Gazette.
“. . . Balzac and his date are parked at the Nye Beach Turnaround. Both are shy, their conversation halting.
‘So, what’s your sign?’
‘Pluto, the Dog Star.’
‘Are you Sirius?'”
Which are better, the cartoons or the narratives? It depends on how much detail readers prefer. It’s not always clear what’s true, what’s local legend, or what’s purely imagined. The charm of small-town traditions (like Nye Beach’s habit of electing a dog for “mayor” at the Sandbar Tavern) mixes with historical commentary that’s never long enough to be dull. Some of the narrative is vividly descriptive, some of the gags hilarious. The book includes an inside look at a UFO cult that started in nearby Waldport. Gilmore by the Sea should appeal to locals, tourists, Oregon history buffs, old hipsters, and people who like to read about life in small coastal towns.
Reviewed by Robin Layne