FACES IN THE SMOKE by Douchan Gersi


An Eyewitness Experience of Voodoo, Shamanism, Psychic Healing, and Other Amazing Human Powers
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 High adventures in the Twilight Zone, by a successful documentary filmmaker. Gersi, producer and director of the PBS series Explore, has spent most of his life poking around earth's most obscure corners, observing--and filming--its most exotic cultures. After a rudimentary introduction to the cosmology of the inhabitants of these Third- or Fourth-World areas (Gersi calls them ``people of tradition''), he settles down to tell us what he's seen. His findings astound: either Gersi is a world-class liar or the Marco Polo of the supernatural. In the Philippines, a man removes, heals, and replaces a woman's left ovary using only his fingers. In Brazil, a surgeon performs open-brain surgery with a hammer and chisel while lightning bolts flash from his chest. In northern Africa, Gersi visits the Tuareg, ``the lords of this universe of desolation, sands, and stone,'' and watches dumbfounded as a shaman, reading signs in sand, recites key events of Gersi's past and future life. Gypsies, Kurds, Namibians, Nepalese--all reveal their magic--or their tricks. But the real payoff comes in Haiti, where Gersi witnesses levitation, possession, and, most incredibly, a member of a society of ``flying men'' who repeatedly passes through a solid wall by dematerialization. What of the living dead, you ask? ``I often stumbled upon a zombie who was going back to his home from his master's fields,'' our wide-eyed narrator remarks. Rationalists will tear their hair over this one, but for those willing to swallow their incredulity, it offers a slick roller- coaster ride into the unknown, made more impressive by Gersi's straight-man sincerity and the occasional corroboration of third- party observers. A classic of psychic adventure, even better than John Keel's 1957 ground-breaker, Jadoo.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1991
ISBN: 0-87477-595-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991