According to the Pima and Papago cosmology, Earth Magician created the world by trial and error -- pulling down the sky in a...

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AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

According to the Pima and Papago cosmology, Earth Magician created the world by trial and error -- pulling down the sky in a fit of pique every time Buzzard criticized his work. The final version of creation was still far from perfect (""You're still making mistakes,"" said Buzzard, ""The lizards' legs are too short, and the snakes have none at all"") when Earth Magician angrily departed for the underworld. Betty Baker's version of the deeds of Earth Magician, Buzzard, Coyote and Etoi (the querulous son of Earth and Sky) is a fast-paced, finely textured pastiche of origin tales -- based on her researches into the earliest extant versions and with a minimum of narrative overlay. Etoi's troublesome tendencies effectively account for the causes of his people's unhappiness: in one case, he sets out to revive the victims of a Monster Eagle, but ""those on the bottom had been dead too long. . . . They woke crying, unable to live like real people. . . . He sent the white men across the sea where there were guns and wagons to amuse them."" But best of all, Baker's apt style and Tinkleman's mystical, brooding evocations preserve the sense of awe and mystery appropriate to the time before the world was fully formed -- before the Buzzard sacrificed his scalp to bring peace to the people, and before Etoi moved away to his home on the mountain Baboquivari at the center of the world.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1973