A dense but enjoyable spiritual-adventure story.
A holistic psychiatrist with diverse interests, Nelson (Sacred Sorrows, 1996) packs numerous subjects into The Remembering, including comparative religion, anthropology, genetics, Tantric Buddhism and investment finance. Narrator Shyloh Ravenswood leads not one but six lives, successively, during the course of the book, alternating between male and female bodies but retaining the same name. First born as a male on the North Central African savanna 42,000 years ago, a female Shyloh finally leaves the reader in 27th-century Tibet. In between, he/she lives and dies in 336 BCE Greece, 1596 Venice and Rome, late-20th-century California and 2107 Bali. On the whole, the author does an admirable job navigating this astounding chronological breadth. Through his/her constant involvement in the field of medicine, either as a student or a professional, Shyloh struggles to understand his existence, growing closer to the answers with each passing life. Despite a weighty spiritual tone, Nelson thankfully avoids heavy-handedness, making the book accessible to casual readers. The author is also a gifted storyteller, employing pleasant descriptions and filmic pacing to move Shyloh through Paleolithic racism in Africa and interactions with Greek gods in Delphi to an examination of Catholicism’s attack on science in Italy. But when Shyloh’s pursuits lead him/her to help form a commune in Southern California to create a â€œperfect” human, the story falls off course. Nelson recovers with a satisfying conclusion, including high tension in a plague-riddled future and a personal victory for Shyloh’s tireless soul.
An entertaining quick-read that doesn’t offer answers so much as provoke discussion.