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 One of those tiresome books about traveling to a distant land to find a self never known--or in this case sidetracked by writer's block and unexpiated grief--now from journalist/novelist Latham (Crazy Sundays, 1971; Orchids for Mother, 1977). Depressed, unable to write, and haunted by the long-ago death of his only sister, whose name he is unable to speak, Latham accompanies his wife (CBS Washington correspondent Leslie Stahl), his young daughter, his brother-in-law, and his nephew on a safari to Kenya and to Diane Fossey's gorillas. There are the usual rigors and delights of life under canvas on upscale safaris. All the expected animals are sighted by the end, and colorful postcolonials like Anna Merz, whose pet rhino follows her around like any small dog, are encountered. The visit to the gorillas is arduous if rewarding, though Latham feels suffocated by the dense undergrowth, and not as free and hopeful as he does on the dry and sparsely treed plains of Kenya, which so remind him of his native Texas. Surprised by his ability to identify with the animals he sees, and letting go of the self in the process, his depression begins to lift, and he is finally able to talk about his sister. These moments of epiphany are not serendipitous, Latham concludes, but, rather, realistic responses to a region where humanity originated; when Richard Leakey suggests that they might be prompted by ``genetic memory,'' Latham agrees: ``We see the place where we came from, and we recognize it. We feel at home in East Africa...there is still no place like home no matter how long we have been away from it.'' Latham's grief and depression, for all their vivid (sometimes mawkish) reality, don't really add all that much to an otherwise thin, conventional, and frequently naive book. For hard-core safari-junkies only.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1991
ISBN: 0-13-946021-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991


FictionCODE OF THE WEST by Aaron Latham
by Aaron Latham
NonfictionTHE BALLAD OF GUSSIE AND CLYDE by Aaron Latham
by Aaron Latham