WHO IS THE RIVER: Getting Lost and Found in the Amazon and Other Places by Paul Zalis

WHO IS THE RIVER: Getting Lost and Found in the Amazon and Other Places

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A travelogue that roams past the subject at hand to search for the private meanings of the life of a quintessential 1960's hippie. Zalis and his sidekick, know, simply as Tano, spent the late 1960's and 1970's drifting from Central and South America to Europe and points beyond in a ceaseless quest to escape from the chains of ""Amerika."" In one last gasp, they decide to hire an old German guide named Gluck and his boat to cruise the Amazon River for 40 days in search of ancient pryamids reputed to exist deep within the jungle. Gluck is an eccentric (his constant confusion of ""who"" with ""where"" provides the title here), who soon has our counter culture heroes lost, forcing them to return at the end, their goal unmet. Being lost, though, provides many an occasion for asides about their offbeat adventures as bona fide Woodstockers. From every page, the spirit of this book cries out, ""This is deep stuff!"" But, like peeling onions, skinning back each layer only becomes a more and more painful process; repetition and mindless rebellion substitute here for depth. This is not to deny Zalis' talent. An occasional powerful turn of phrase signals true potential. He writes, for instance, that ""the rain made the jungle look as if a screen door separated us"" before ""the sun cracked the sky and spread it apart, a jigsaw of clouds disassembling."" But it remains to be seen if he can transcend the by-now compromised ideals of the Woodstock generation and create a career based on larger concerns.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Atheneum