WILD MAN by Tobias Schneebaum


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Schneebaum's fascination with a potent boyhood image--the Wild Man of Borneo, once seen in a Coney Island cage--turned into a lifelong pilgrimage, impelling him regularly from New York's art scene into exotic wilderness territories. Keep the River on Your Right (1969) was an account of his first excursion, a hazy sojourn among Peruvian Indians in which he found a kind of sexual/spiritual release. This autobiographical sequel finds him in other primitive areas--of India, Libya, New Guinea--still tracking down his wild man, by now an almost mythical figure vested with sublime powers. Schneebaum is a sure, occasionally seductive writer, giving each locale a certain aura, its inhabitants sharp distinguishing features, musing about architecture and anthropology or leaping back to his Brooklyn boyhood for allusive, integrating memories. And he does find and merge with his wild man--feathers, face paint, and all--in a personally meaningful rite of passage. But one wonders, as he does fleetingly, after he's been rolled by Buddhist monks and repeatedly disappointed by homosexual encounters, is he looking for masculinity or masochism, a primitive headhunter or a lonely self he has struggled to travel beyond. Liberation or not, it's an unrepressed, almost naked log, affecting in parts and venturesome throughout.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1979
ISBN: 0299193446
Publisher: Viking