COYOTE MEDICINE

LESSONS FROM NATIVE AMERICAN HEALING

A treatise on ``half-breed'' medicine that partakes of both Anglo and Native American traditions but is at home in neither. Mehl-Madrona, who now teaches family-practice medicine at the University of Hawaii, offers two books in one. The first is an account of the education of a doctor, one that often veers into self-importance (``I have always believed I have a mission on earth'') but that may prove instructive for anyone tempted to enter medical training. The second is a look at Native American healing practices, and it is even less satisfying. The literature of Native American medicine is already peppered with naive and uncritical texts that suggest that healing techniques can be divorced from their cultural contexts and readily adapted elsewhere. Mehl-Madrona contributes to this notion of mix-and-match doctoring: ``The medicine passed in a dipper around the circle,'' he writes in a description of a healing ceremony. ``Everyone took a sip. Then we passed the dipper again, pouring water on our heads to open the crown chakras.'' (Hanta yoga, anyone?) The author, who claims Cherokee ancestry, is clearly a longtime student of Native American traditions, and he discusses some of them with welcome clarity. He inclines, however, to a mysticism that will discomfort some readers, as in his description of an encounter with a curious rattlesnake during healing ceremonies in the Arizona desert (``its head rested on my shoulder, and its rattle massaged my foot''). Elsewhere Mehl-Madrona writes, ``Native American spirituality is a gift to us from North America itself. . . . Native American people have been preservers of this spiritual path for centuries, but they do not own it.'' This position is likely to appall cultural purists, but it will comfort browsers in the great department store of spiritual salves that is the New Age. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-80271-6

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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