The spiritual tale of a young Native American from the days before the Spanish arrived in California.
Set in the warm mists of a bygone Southern California, this taut spiritual awakening-cum-bildungsroman chronicles the metaphysical and social awakening of a young man named Tacu. Introduced in media res, we learn through well-wrought and subtle exposition that Tacu is without a father, that his mother is the spiritual leader of their village and that his wise uncle Takoda has returned to initiate the young man into the realm of spiritual growth and mystery. The structure of the tale is quite simple—Tacu meditates according to his uncle’s instructions, struggles to achieve stillness but eventually learns heightened awareness of his environment and his spiritual dimensions. This will be well-worn territory for readers of Castaneda, fans of native wisdom narratives and even addicts of martial arts films, but Lamont’s very particular setting and honed, terse prose make the most of this slight volume. Without resorting to anachronistic vocabulary, Lamont conjures imagery that explains Takoda’s charisma without any undue intrusions from Tacu on the narrator’s voice: “Takoda’s dark form flickered as though he were made of smoke and orange firelight.” This sophisticated free indirect discourse is often mismanaged even by mass-market authors, and there is hardly a word out of place throughout Tacu’s narrative. The story functions much better as a fable than a novella proper, and so readers looking for a developed mythos or a panoramic tapestry of Tongvan or more general Native American culture should not expect to find that here. The narrative is an exercise in time-honored formula, so what is most commendable is the precision and unpretentiousness of the prose while still managing to invoke the intense quality of Tacu’s visionary quest and moving nature of his movement.
A thoughtfully crafted fable for fans of spiritual awakenings and the romance of traditional peoples.