An intriguing if incredible-sounding account of anthropologist Abelar's training by the same mysterious family of sorcerers that allegedly spawned Carlos Castaneda. In the late 60's, while she was sketching the mountains around Tucson, Abelar met Clara Grau, a charismatic Mexican woman. Somehow, Grau persuaded young Abelar to abandon her solitary and rudderless life and to visit her house in Sonora, Mexico. What followed was an extraordinary induction into a family of 16 sorcerers. In a self-consciously academic preface, Abelar describes her training as a sorceress as ``breaking the perceptual dispositions and biases that imprison us within the boundaries of the normal everyday world and prevent us from entering other perceivable worlds.'' In the telling, however, the movements and exercises that led up to the perceptual leap called ``the sorcerers' crossing'' is pure, well, Castaneda, full of walloping energies and wise teachers dispensing dramatic insights. Castaneda himself explains in a supplemental preface that Abelar was trained as a ``stalker''—as opposed to a ``dreamer'': no drugs, but an exercise called the ``recapitulation,'' in which Abelar had to liberate herself from every imprisoning memory and attachment. Why was Abelar chosen? While searching for a men's room at a California drive-in, the patriarch of the sorcerer family stumbled onto Abelar as she was seducing a pimply young kid. Then and there, he vowed to save her for a better fate. An absorbing riddle of a book. Much is made of the Abelars and the Graus, the stalkers and the dreamers, the two sides of the sorcerer family that live on right and left sides of their magical Mexican house like right and left hemispheres of the brain. This and much else here seems suspiciously symmetrical and pat. But who knows?
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