BORDERLAND by Neil Claremon


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Pity the American Indian: if it's not the land office, then it's books such as this in which exotic primitives humble their white superiors with dialogue like ""you know nothing. . .and even knowing is not understanding. . . ."" But Claremon has gone Castaneda even one better by mating his quest-theme with a love story, between J.P. -- a drifter with a special gift for dowsing -- and an alluring Opata named Tsari who talks to birds, goes into hypnotic trances and studies herbalism and the Other Side with a curandera healer up in the mountains. There's a thin plot concerning the irrigation of ranch land on the Mexican-American border for the benefit of Tsari's people; but the style is mainly episodic (like a diary?) bits and pieces about fertility dances, magic cures, hallucinatory mushrooms, an expedition to the Sacred Place, a drug trip that doubles sexual pleasure -- all leading up to a romantic mystical parturition of twins in which J.P. presides as medicine man, weird chanting and all, now that his love has invested him with ""a spiritual power beyond. . ."" etc., etc. Early on, there's a snide putdown of those coldly explorative anthropologists who come around asking silly questions about myths and legends and then rip off the tribal relics. . .but what else does Claremon think he's doing here?

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Publisher: Knopf