Dolphin Dreams

by Lyle Nicholson

Dolphin Dreams CoverWhen I first read Dolphin Dreams, I didn’t get it. If you take everything at face-value, things are a tad predictable and underdeveloped, alongside editorial missteps that could easily be a deal breaker in the hands of an unskilled author, but, once you dig below the surface, the story appears to be about so much more. (In order to explain myself a bit, which will be a necessity, given the nature of other reviews I’ve seen, I think I should throw up a bit of a **SPOILER WARNING**)

I really think the reason this went unnoticed on my first read-through was that it was pretty straightforward of a plot: A recently divorced man heads to a conference in Cancun, only to find himself having spectacular “dreams” about dolphins and working with locals to free the captive dolphins at the resort. However, there are unexplained inconsistencies that do come up over the course of the tale, and it appears that Nicholson crafted a deep character in Niklas, the protagonist. Most of the novel comes across as Niklas’ waking dream, from a man who feels powerless after the divorce of his wife, turning (I suspect) to drink after arriving at the resort, which brings his previously disguised mental issues to the forefront of his life. He creates a power fantasy, in which he’s the “chosen one” which has the power to commune with the dolphins, and, as such, is the one to free them from their captivity. He gains the approval of locals, who are likely in similar frames of mind, such as a self-proclaimed “patron of Cancun”––the act of naming oneself as such appears to be more delusional behaviour I would attribute to a stereotypical homeless man, a man who is described as having a lot of money, yet somehow can’t use it to buy the dolphins’ freedom––but winds up in the drunk tank. Nonetheless, Niklas’ fantasy continues, culminating with the love of his perfect woman, who cares about him precisely because of his affinity with the dolphins, and I can assume to be a figment of his imagination. We aren’t told what really happens to Niklas, but it doesn’t matter; even if he became homeless and destitute, he emerges the victor in his mind.

Nicholson’s biography on the back of Dolphin Dreams modestly declares that he is a storyteller, rather than a literary writer, and he would never claim to be such a writer; given his tremendous skill that comes with crafting a complex tale of this calibre, I can’t wait to read Polar Bear Dawn, in the hopes that another deep plot emerges, this time with more experience and editorial prowess.