FACES IN THE SMOKE by Douchan Gersi

FACES IN THE SMOKE

An Eyewitness Experience of Voodoo, Shamanism, Psychic Healing, and Other Amazing Human Powers

KIRKUS REVIEW

 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