An imperious and flawed father figure looms large in Coyote’s artfully rendered chronicle of his intriguing journey from confused, privileged youth to enlightened Zen practitioner.
Not long ago, Coyote, international screen star and veteran countercultural revolutionary, had a transcendental experience that he had arguably been searching for his entire life. But while the author’s Buddhist practice is a vital component of his often descriptively brilliant biographical odyssey, it is by no means the only one. Coyote’s story, the follow-up to Sleeping Where I Fall (1998), is as much about a boy’s initial introduction to the great wide world as it is about one complex human being’s lifelong hunger for inner meaning. Coyote presents a fascinatingly intricate portrait of what it was like being the peculiar scion of wealth and power. As a child, the young Peter Cohon found himself languishing in neglect, floating in the staid world of his conflicted parents, Morris and Ruth. Soon, however, he was propelled headlong into a parallel existence where he met lively figures hired to run the family’s Turkey Hill farm and Englewood, New Jersey, abode. “For the next ten years [caretaker] Susie Howard was the North Star around which my heavens revolved.” The impressionable young boy eventually encountered jazz legends, intellectual radicals and rough-hewn outdoorsmen. In addition to an imposing gangster uncle, each of these individuals managed to shape the boy who would later become not only a central figure in America’s nascent youth movement, but also a dusty pioneer in communal living, a left-wing rabble-rouser working inside the political system, and a struggling father trying to support a family with a heroin monkey on his back. Astonishingly, well into middle age, the author accomplished another remarkable turn, evolving into the well-respected film actor many know him as today.
Presented with so many well-defined faces, there’s guaranteed to be at least one Coyote, and probably more, that readers enjoy meeting.