What a splendid book this is. It is everything that a memoir should be -- profoundly honest, wise, humble, poignant and beautifully written. Subtitled “What a splendid book this is. It is everything that a memoir should be -- profoundly honest, wise, humble, poignant and beautifully written. Subtitled “an irregular education,” this second volume of Peter Coyote’s autobiography belongs to the venerable tradition of the spiritual autobiography – a searching meditation upon the stages of the soul’s growth. It is structured around the influence of a succession of “mentors” who guided and nurtured this metamorphosis: his powerful and difficult father, Morris; his Mafioso Uncle Harry; his scholarly and shrewd Uncle Bert; his childhood’s “emotional anchor,” Susie Howard, and her “extended family of black friends”; a jazz musician; a Republican businessman;his “second” father, the fashion designer Nino Cerruti; and the poet Gary Snyder, who introduced him to the practice of Zen Buddhism. These and other influences appear in the narrative, one after another, as the objects of retrospection, as the crucial personalities who were the catalysts of change and growth. In the process the “small, confused boy” Peter Cohon transforms into Peter Coyote the Hippie communard who transforms into a famous actor who (after a lifetime torn between the irreconcilable choices of Power and Love) at last finds a “Third Cure” in his vocation as a Zen Buddhist priest. It is the slow, surprising and often agonizing transformation of a pupa into a butterfly. Although the story of this unfolding happens to be a memoir written by a celebrity, it betrays no more attachment to the moment when the author was an international celebrity standing on a red carpet in Cannes than to the days when he was shooting drugs and eating road-kill. For it is a narration guided by a determination to look squarely at things exactly as they were and are and enlivened on every page by a keen eye for the details that illuminate a scene or a character. It is a stunning book. ...more
David Lentz’s touching and humble sonnets are love songs – elegant meditations on what true love really is and snapshots of a life two people have buiDavid Lentz’s touching and humble sonnets are love songs – elegant meditations on what true love really is and snapshots of a life two people have built together. In “Kissing Bridge,” a young couple pledge their troth upon a bridge of love that spans the river of time in a “snowbound, moonstruck land.” “When Life is cold, you are warm” is a paean to love as a refuge from life’s hardships. “Family Portrait” is a gently humorous tribute to family love as a vital support. “To Wit” celebrates the laughter -- the “lightning quick repartee,” the “high human comedy” of mature love. Reminiscent of the contention between love and time in Shakespeare’s sonnets, the poignant final line of “When I look into your eyes” sums up the fragility of human happiness in a blink. There is a disarming passion and candor to these verses, as if one has been welcomed into someone else’s house – and privileged to overhear an intimate conversation.
A fascinating,exhaustively researched and beautifully written history of the 16th-century war between Christendom and the Ottoman empire for control oA fascinating,exhaustively researched and beautifully written history of the 16th-century war between Christendom and the Ottoman empire for control of the Mediterranean -- a page-turner and a delight....more