STILL WATERS by James Vance Marshall


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From the author of Walkabout: the same ingredients--exotic wilderness setting, innocent natives, gentle whites, a soupcon of nubile nakedness--but whipped up to a far more cloying intensity. A young doctor, identified only as ""Peter,"" comes to Sarawak (Borneo) to find a cure for rabies, driven by agonizing memories of Tara, his lovely five-year-old godchild who has died from the bite of a rabid bat. Deep in the rain forest, you see, at a place called Gunung Api, there is a gigantic concentration of rabies-immune bats--a researcher's dream. . . complicated by the fact that the area is also inhabited by the Penan, utterly inoffensive, kind-hearted tribespeople who believe that the spirits of their departed ancestors (""the Loved Ones"") transmigrate into the bodies of the bats. Thus, the Penan politely dodge Peter's questions about the location of the huge cave where most of the bats roost, but he does succeed in bribing a Penan lad named Jalong to show him the way. Then, disaster: the boy falls to his death, starting a rock slide that a) traps Peter in the cave, b) locks the bats out, and c) diverts the course of a river so that it floods the valley of the Penan. Peter doggedly claws his way out of the cave, goes back to catching, killing, and dissecting bats, finds that elusive cure. . . and dies poisoned by Jalong's bewitching, barely clad sister, Still Waters--but not before managing to dynamite the river back to its proper course. A sentimental fable of Savagery and Civilization--far less graceful than Walkabout, but sure to attract an earnest audience.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow