AMAZON BEAMING

The strange and wonderful tale of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre's mystical journal from the depths of the Amazon basin to the river's ultimate source in the Andes, solemnly related by Popescu (The Last Wave; In Hot Blood, 1988 paperback.) With 40 years of Amazon exploration under his belt, as well as subsidiary careers in the US Navy and as a documentary filmmaker, McIntyre jumped at the chance to experience and photograph a ``first contact'' with an elusive Mayoruna tribe rumored to exist on the shores of the Rio Javari, an Amazon tributary. Airdropped onto the river's shore, McIntyre easily joined up with the seminomadic ``cat people''—who tattooed their faces and stuck spines in their cheeks to resemble their claimed jaguar ancestors- -but soon became hopelessly lost following their flight from an unseen enemy. Worried that his hired pilot would never find him, unable to speak the Indians' language, and suffering severe culture shock from jungle life, McIntyre nevertheless became fascinated by the Mayoruna headman, who seemed to communicate with the American through what McIntyre called ``beaming''—or mental telepathy. McIntyre apparently received mental messages regarding the tribe's plan to escape modern encroachers by traveling ``back to the beginning''—fasting, dancing, and ingesting natural hallucinogens to return to the safety of the beginning of time. After witnessing this ceremony, McIntyre returned to civilization, but he would experience a psychic reunion with the tribe—and, perhaps, their ancient ancestors—two years later while combing the Andes for the true source of the Amazon. Three stories—McIntyre's contact with the Mayoruna, his discovery of the Amazon's source, and his own inner, spiritual exploration—make for an occasionally unwieldy bundle of a book, but Popescu's awe, combined with McIntyre's general stupefaction, makes for fascinating reading. A sort of Castaneda exercise in mystical and ecological inquiry, perfectly timed for the New Age. (Sixteen pages of color photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-670-82997-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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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

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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