C.G. Worrell's Reviews > Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
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's review
Sep 23, 2011

really liked it

Put on your "willing suspension of disbelief" glasses. A giant telepathic gorilla is about to teach a jaded writer what it means to be civilized. I sucked this down in four days for a book club meeting. Using the Socratic method, Ishmael the gorilla leads the protagonist on a journey of cultural re-evaluation. What happened 10,000 years ago that led humans to where we are today: a planet of Takers consuming resources like a plague of locusts?
Ishmael is not a sanctimonious blow-hard, or a prophet, or a nag. He just calmly asks the reader to evaluate "Mother Culture" in a new light.
Many times I wanted to shake the mammoth gorilla. "Just TELL me the answers to your endless questions!" But this would have defeated the author's intent.
This is a short, very thought-provoking read. I really enjoyed the reinterpretation of biblical references, especially the ongoing Cain & Abel struggle. For me though, the book fell shy in answering the question: "Where do we go from here?" Also, I felt it had some logic flaws in the argument about birth control of primitive peoples. However, it definitely made me sit back and re-examine my level of consumption and sense of entitlement. To affect change, we all need to look in that mirror.
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