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Joey Celebrisi is a fork-lift operator in Jersey City, with a wife and a son--but all his life he's been addicted to ""stunts"": pranks, practical jokes, elaborate impersonations. And in the midst of a particularly crowning one of these stunts--involving a young local monsignor--Joey suddenly finds himself alive with unnamable ""energies"" that seem directly to expose the sense of ""falsehood, in his life. He beats the epiphany down for a while--but, bit by bit, the ""energies"" lead him away from convention. Thus, his journey: investigating a Massachusetts monastery, getting a job in the northern Maine woods as a loader at a paper mill, time in an East Chicago slaughterhouse (vegetarianism is a not-surprising result), working with Basque sheepherders in Wyoming. And at each stop and step, Joey finds someone who knowingly or not contributes to his enlightenment. His last--and final--stop will be at a San Francisco Buddhist center, where the ""energies"" are at last focused and harnessed, and Joey takes ultimate self-stock: ""Who was Celebrisi, new and old? Who is this person who from the first moment he heard it liked reciting the Buddha's name? Who am I? I saw that I hadn't truly asked the 'who' question before at all, because I hadn't directed it at the full breadth of myself. If I was false, who was here? Was there anyone to ask who was here?"" Unfortunately, only in the first chapters--as this blue-collar worker attains initial enlightenment--is the progression toward spirituality interesting here. Otherwise, it's less a novel than a testimony/guidebook (not a bad one) for those interested in Eastern enlightenment; in fact, this will probably appeal mostly to others who've found the Way with Buddhism.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Tarcher--dist. by Houghton Mifflin