As fond as I am of trickster tales, it’s hard to imagine anything with a title like Coyote Moon can be anything other than mythic. Coyote Moon doesn’t have a lot to do with coyotes, or even with tricksters (although I have a feeling that author John Miller himself may qualify), but the novel is certainly mythic. First, baseball plays a major role in the story. As the brilliant book Ground Rules: Baseball and Myth shows, baseball is a goldmine for mythic material. Add in liberal doses of cutting edge physics (if you’re not up on your science, don’t worry), possible reincarnation, and the search for meaning and miracles, and the result is a myth lover’s delight.
A rookie baseball player, missing a past but blessed with a cannon for an arm and a stellar batting average, a Mexican waitress, a physics professor, the widowed owner of a trailer park, and a band of retired, wandering Germans are all drawn together to a place in the desert. Why? None are certain. Only that it seems something is about to happen. Something that might reveal a great secret, something that might even be a miracle.
As the relationships of the charming and engaging characters deepen, they seem reborn and renewed as their inhibitions and old lives melt away in the desert heat. What happens exactly? The ending, alas, is vague, or at least open to interpretation. All miracles are. And John A. Miller is at least as much a trickster as the coyote who seems to wink at the needy seekers in the novel.
But as ambiguous as it may seem in the end. Coyote Moon is certainly not unsatisfying, and is never less than a joy to read. The lyrical passages on love, life, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and, of course, baseball and the meaning of life and destiny, are lovely, and the characters are a genuine pleasure to meet and share a journey with.