OF TIME AND CHANGE by Frank Waters


A Memoir
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Literate, entertaining notes toward a memoir by the late southwestern novelist. Waters (Flight from Siesta, 1987), who died in 1995 at the age of 93, had something of a charmed, if difficult, childhood. His father, part Native American, introduced young Frank to the ways of the Ute, Navajo, and Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, an education that would serve him well in later years. After his father died, Waters made his way west to Los Angeles and later east to New York, where he worked, unhappily, as an engineer and advertising writer. —But none of my successive jobs and hectic marriages held any conviction of permanency,— he writes. —I felt I was playing roles in which I was miscast, and I had lost the thread of my inner life.— That quest for his inner life occupies most of this series of autobiographical vignettes, written with Waters’s trademark conversational ease. He describes affectingly the intellectual life of the pre-WWII Southwest, when Mabel Dodge and Mary Austin held sway over Taos and the likes of D.H. Lawrence, Georges Gurdjieff, C.G. Jung, and Andrew Dasburg were one’s cocktail companions. Waters’s sketches of such people are at once respectful and humorous, as with his description of the painter and professional liar Leon Gaspard, who claimed that he taught Marc Chagall to draw and helped Giacomo Puccini write his most famous opera. Elsewhere Waters devotes much time to discussing his understanding of Native American spirituality and his researches into the Otherworld. Although Waters’s Book of the Hopi was a foundational document in the literature of the contemporary New Age movement, it’s clear from these pages that he had little patience for cafeteria-style faith; his own quest involved considerable hard work, rigorous reading, and long conversations with leading religious thinkers of many cultures. Of much interest to readers of Waters’s novels and to students of Southwestern life and letters generally.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-878448-86-2
Page count: 245pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998


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