A rapturous operating manual for the soul.

THE ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONS

REFLECTIONS OF AN ELDER ON THE TEACHINGS OF THE ELDERS, ADAPTING ANCIENT WISDOM TO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Native American spirituality is the cure for what ails humanity, according to this rhapsodic New Age manifesto.

Mankind went wrong, argues Manitonquat, a Wampanoag poet, editor and counselor, at the first stirrings of civilization when we learned to exploit plants and animals instead of revere them, and to live in big cities instead of little bands. The result is a present-day culture stewing in violence, inequality, sexism, environmental devastation and global warming, one that “plunders everything, robs, rapes, pillages and murders its own and every other species, becoming madder, more enraged and more insane with every passing year.” Fortunately, he writes, we can regain sanity by recalling the “original instructions” the Creator meant us to obey, which are still remembered by the elders of the First Nations (the author, having seen 80 winters, is one). The central injunction is to abjure puritanical notions of sin and damnation and to cultivate a respectful awareness that “all of Creation is sacred and holy.” (And that, Manitonquat insists, means all of Creation, from the stars up above to head lice, intestinal parasites and Osama bin Laden). Further instructions comprise a catalogue of virtues: honesty, humility, generosity and hospitality; a keen appreciation for beauty (vultures and maggots included); the courage to oppose injustice; a childlike curiosity and playfulness. The comforting—and challenging—message is that we can heal the wounds of modernity if we turn away from greed, materialism and arrogant self-importance, commune with the Earth and cultivate an intimate connectedness to each other. Manitonquat’s prose has a sonorous, liturgical tone and rhythm, but it’s shot through with passages of lyrical nature writing (“there is an endless song here, made of wind, cries of sea birds, and the incessant crumbling rollers of the Atlantic roughly caressing the level sands”), indigenous folk stories, child-rearing tips, discussions of hominid evolution and bawdy jokes. His is a soaring spiritual vision that nevertheless remains rooted in the soil of everyday experience.

A rapturous operating manual for the soul.

Pub Date: June 29, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4389-8079-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more