Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn

A young colleague from work gave me this book with a strong recommendation. The full title is Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. A blurb on the cover quotes Jim Britell of the Whole Earth Review: "From now on I will divide the books I have read into two categories--the ones I read before Ishmael and those read after."

A telepathic gorilla is the main character. Our narrator is a young, self-styled "seeker." The book is an exposition of a philosophy that is offered as an antidote to the destructive worldview currently prevailing.

"You hear this fifty times a day. You can turn on the radio or the television and hear it every hour. Man is conquering the deserts, man is conquering the oceans, man is conquering the atom, man is conquering the elements, man is conquering outer space...and given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now." (p.73, p.84)

There were no brand new ideas in the book for me, but it helped me organize some of the ideas I got from East of Eden. The content is more important than the style, but it is well-organized and engaging.

If you are interested in a quick philosophical novel about ecology, you could do worse.


yellojkt said...

You had me at "telepathic gorilla". There aren't enough of those if fiction today, if you don't count Gorilla Grodd from The Flash.

Anonymous said...

I read Ishmael not long ago, and I loved it! Definately a good read...