Books by Erik Jendresen

THE FIRST STORY EVER TOLD by Erik Jendresen
ADVENTURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

Cities of gold have haunted imaginations seemingly forever, but this story of an explorer's search for one such city, the fabled Vilcabamba—inspired by the creation tales of the Incas of Peru—begins and ends in the banal. An anonymous explorer ``discovers'' a map to the city in a museum display—a map that despite the traffic in the museum, no one else has noticed. He follows the map through a romanticized landscape—the Mountains of the Moon, the Valley of Shadow, the River of the Rainbow (yes, a rainbow hovers over it)—gets tired, sleeps. Grandmother Fire visits in the night to tell the explorer the first story ever told, a creation myth, after which he awakens to see ``the jungle shining golden in the early morning light. . . . And he knew that he had found Vilcabamba.'' The language is competent but unmoving; neither words nor illustrations provide a solid basis from which the inner journey- -no matter how valid and important—can be launched. Yoshi's illustrations are surprisingly corny, static, and inconsistent: The explorer looks like a boy in some scenes, a man in others. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: June 1, 1992

Psychologist Villoldo and playwright Jendresen (The Four Winds, 1990) reteam to describe Villoldo's latest shamanistic adventure in Peru. In January 1988, Villoldo finds himself sitting with friends around a fire in an ancient canyon in Arizona, telling a made-up story about Father Sun and Mother Earth. Later that night, he dreams of climbing the steep trail to Machu Picchu, pursued by someone unknown. Soon after, he flies to Peru, compelled to enact the ascent he saw in his dream, hoping by following his deepest instincts to reconnect with Antonio, the shaman-professor who—as detailed in The Four Winds—taught him the secrets of the medicine wheel, or ``the journey of the Four Winds.'' The journey ``begins in the South where one goes to confront and shed the past,'' and it continues in the West, a direction inhabited by fear and death and previously mastered by Villoldo, thanks to a legendary drug called yagÇ. Now, as his solo walk to Machu Picchu begins, he contemplates the spiritual journey to the North, symbolizing the wisdom of the ancestors, the secrets of the Inca shamans. On the trail, eerily true to his dream, he encounters a young Indian who tells the same story Villoldo made up that night in the Arizona canyon and who says that he is headed for Vilcabamba, the legendary ``Sacred Plain'' that served the Incas as a refuge from the Spanish. At Machu Picchu, Villoldo experiences profound visions, and, soon after, he encounters the aged Antonio, whom he accompanies to the ``Island of the Sun,'' a sacred spot in Bolivia that shamans believe to be the cradle of humanity. Here, watching Antonio, Villoldo learns a profound lesson about the journey to the East— the journey to the sun, the journey home. An absorbing if far-fetched story of spiritual adventure, likely to interest the same Castaneda-oriented readership as Taisha Abelar's The Sorcerers' Crossing (reviewed above). Read full book review >