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Where the Bird Sings Best

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  893 ratings  ·  94 reviews
There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the s ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Restless Books (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  893 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
There are two kinds of people in the world. People who want to read a book in which the following sentence makes perfect sense, and those who don't:

“The hunchback got drunk, burned the gorilla suit, and began to pelt him with hardboiled eggs dyed black.”

If you do - then this is the book for you.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where the Bird Sings Best - by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Read - 29th August 2014.

I have just finished the most amazing autobiography given to me by netgalley. Well, I think it is an autobiography, but it’s really about the author’s origins and what fascinating and amazing origins!
The story begins in Russia and moves to Chile, but what a move! The story describes the life of the author’s Nineteenth Century Jewish ancestors searching for an escape from persecution and poverty in a graphic and brutal way
Jan 27, 2018 marked it as abandoned
I made it to the halfway mark. There are some genuinely creative & well-done snippets in this book.


I am abandoning it at this point.

I have just read so many rape & other horrible scenes that I'm done. It's not literature. It's not magical realism. It's not mystical. It's just strange & gross & horrifying in too many ways.
Nathan Rostron
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FULL DISCLOSURE: My publishing company is publishing this book in hardcover in March 2015, it is awesome, and you should read it. Here's why:

Huge, weird, joyous, raunchy, full of family legends and disturbingly compelling and surreal incest, Tarot and Jewish mysticism, lovers embalmed in honey and lion tamers more lion than tamer, this book is crazy and yet also completely engrossing and relatable. Even if you haven't seen Jodorowsky's films (but even better if you have—also, go see Jodorowsky's
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jodorowsky is a storytelling master, and once again he shows it with a family saga that may read esoteric (what with all that Tarot imagery and Kabbalah) were it not for the way he somehow always manages to bend those abstruse concepts to his poetics, and not vice versa.

*I would like to thank Restless Books for letting me view an ARC of this work through NetGalley.

Jodorowsky does not tell a story. He tells The Story, whatever the media and the content.
A tub with two honey-included bodies floats
Becca Tullman
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I wish I could give it 3.5. It's not really a 3, but it's not a 4 either. I can't really decide how I feel about it. Weird book. Enthralling stories in parts of it, and contained interesting observations on life and human nature. Other parts felt over the top and forced. Told with the rhythms, tones, and vocabulary of Kabbalah and Jewish folktales, with a little Talmud for flavor. ...more
Boris Feldman
May 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unable-to-finish
To appreciate this book fully, you should drop acid first.
The author probably did before writing it.
How often can you combine pogroms, religious mysticism, and rape in one novel?
I'm proud that I quit at 50%, but ashamed that I made it to 50%.
Laura Santoski
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
The conceit of this book is that the author (who is basically a jack-of-all-trades Chilean-French guy -- he was a clown, a filmmaker, an author, he translated the book from spanish to english, and the list goes on) is mythologizing his family's history.

It took me a while to get into the book because it's honestly crazy -- like a very long fever dream. It goes through multiple generations and across continents and it's funny and gross and beautiful. Ex.: There's a part where a beekeeper's long-l
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Alejandro Jodorowsky is a weird dude.

I read this book because Vice magazine published the first chapter in it's fiction section. I was taken with that, and decided to read the whole book.

I was very interested in this because the story is a sort of mythical telling of his Jewish ancestry as they came from Europe to the new world, specifically South America. My family is Jewish, and I have family that lives in Latin America, so while my family story is different, there are certain over lapping ele
Nick Cato
Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I read the first half and put it aside. Finally came back to it and while it is an enjoyable read, it's one that requires much contemplation. The prose forces you to digest everything in small nuggets, which are at times rewarding, at times, as head-scratching as some of Jodorowsky's films.

Slow going but interesting. The author's imagination continues to boggle the mind. I felt it was a bit too long though, and could easily have been cut almost in half.
Wendy Wagner
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: magic-realism
A stew of wild ideas and over-the-top characters, all boiling over on the fierce burner of Jodorowksy's imagination. Does it make sense? Does it need to? It's all about inspiring the reader to live a more mythological life.
If you liked the Metabarons, you'll love this.
“Weird” might be my choice if I had to describe Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Where the Bird Sings Best” in one word. That was my biggest impression, but there are so many dimensions to this “autobiographical novel” that make it unique and at the same time another masterpiece of Latin American literature. I will warn readers that there are many disturbing scenes, but from what I gather, those familiar with Jodorowsky’s other work will find this to share many of his trademark elements. In fact, his fam ...more
Michael Jay
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jodorowsky generates an architecture of ideas

Every chapter has a perspective or a description i never considered before. It is a delight to encounter new frames of mind in these interwoven stories. I wish to make my own version to tell my family's story, so magically.
Dan Gorman
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I never much cared for Jodorowsky's movies. "El Topo" worked fairly well as a story, but I found the meaning behind its symbolism to be very obscure. Conversely, the themes of "The Holy Mountain" were powerful, yet I found the film worked poorly as a narrative. In prose, Jodorowsky's spiritual themes are conveyed in a more coherent way. Simply put, this is an astonishing, horrifying, unforgettable work of fiction. Jodorowsky blends mythology, Judaism, the tarot, esotericism, Kabbala, Christianit ...more
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel is both utterly depraved (as in, gallons of every single kind of bodily fluid gushing everywhere) and sublime as it reaches for the stars from the dankiest part of the gutter. The plot and characters move along more like a series of Jewish folktales or myths, and each scene could be something out of one of his films, shot through with every extreme of humor, beauty, and disgustingness. It can be a bit wearing at times to wade through all this, but also like his films, all of this madn ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, that's a strange one.
Magical realism meets LSD, or maybe ayahuasca, to tell of diaspora and communist revolution.
Chad Bearden
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Alejandro Jodorowsky's family history is a phantasmagorical romp that is far more interested in honoring the mythology of his grandparents and their epic migration (both physical and spiritual) from Europe, than he is in giving an accurate account of what actually took place.

The four threads of the story are his four grandparents, each a painfully stubborn human being, steeped in the myriad burdens of family, tradition, religion, poverty, anti-Semitism, and so on. Their lives are an explosion of
Apr 29, 2018 added it
Shelves: gave-up
Couldn't get through it. After awhile, I got tired of the magic and miracles and realized it was going to keep being more of the same. The violence isn't really what got to me (I managed James Ellroy's 'Perfidia' pretty well) it's what seems to me the author's constant effort to pile on yet one more amazing surrealistic fantastic thing. Another reviewer mentioned it being sometimes forced; I felt that most of the time. After awhile nothing seems especially more amazing than anything else and I j ...more
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was an magical realism retelling of the history of the authors geneology. I am a sucker for magical realism and I thought it was an interesting way to recall your history. So much of the stories that get passed down are fraught with a tinge of myth anyway, and this just goes over the top. Who will ever forget two lovers preserved in honey or a ghost that gets passed down through the generations? Still Jodorowsky comes from some disturbing lineages and there were times I almost stopped readi ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Where the Bird Sings Best is a wildly imaginative, complicated, genealogical epic of a novel. Jodorowsky sprinkles metaphysical and philosophical gems throughout the book in some very poetic and surreal passages. While I liked the book, I did find it hard to follow at times due to all the characters, quite a few with the same names. I had to stop trying to kept track of everyone (the family trees did help) and allow myself to get carried away into Jodorowsky's world, which was easily done.

Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish it, which says it all. I have never not finished a book. I think it might be a poor translation? I am not up to speed on my Jewish religious knowledge or Jewish mysticism so it is quite possible I am entirely missing the point. It's confusing in plot (a book that needs multiple family trees should try to be extremely clear), at times vulgar (perhaps a translation problem?), and not gripping. ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very beautiful and very insane book. Jodorowsky's imagination is prodigious. His creative energy is beyond belief. But he is so mad. A raving lunatic who repeatedly insists that he's telling the true version of events. Copious amounts of sex, violence, poetry, and lush descriptions of the phenomena behind our visible world. Very entertaining, but not easy to relate to. ...more
Erica Pamson
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bizarre, beautiful, mystical. A spiritual journey through world and family history, time, and imagination. Jodorowsky conjures images so powerful, strange, and striking that they cannot be forgotten.
Galen Strickland
There are certain sections that would rate a 5, but the extreme violence, including multiple instances of rape drop the rating down. I can't recommended it.
Eric Lemons
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute blast to read. Wonderful in all the Jodorowsky ways.
Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shit be weird!
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021-bookclub
steven tulipana
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Biswanath Banerjee
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic work of autobiography.
Autobiography that deals with three generation of the family of the writer-presenting a rare glimpses of the contemporary times from the social and historical viewpoint, capturing the history of a nation in transition all the way through. the work captures from the viewpoint of the author, apiece of Latin American history and culture. The volume under review is the wondrous story of the journey of a Jewish family from Ukraine to Chile- in search of a bette
Stephanie Jane
I received a copy of Where The Bird Sings Best from its publishers, Restless Books, via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I had not previously heard of Chilean born film director and writer Alejandro Jodorowsky so this translated edition of one of his most popular Spanish language novels is my introduction to his work. The book is a truly fantastical journey back through several generations of the Jodorowsky family, each more bizarre than each other, as they make their way from Russia,
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Also credited as Alexandro Jodorowsky

Better known for his surreal films El Topo and The Holy Mountain filmed in the early 1970s, Alejandro Jodorowsky is also an accomplished writer of graphic novels and a psychotherapist. He developed Psychomagic, a combination of psychotherapy and shamanic magic. His fans have included John Lennon and Marilyn Manson.

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