Monday, March 15, 2010


This is the title of a book by Daniel Quinn I’ve come to read later than others. My son finally forced it into my hands a couple of days ago. He’s been urging me to read it for a two or three years now. There was a time when we communicated most effectively by his saying “Mom, you have to watch this movie” and I’d rent a skateboarding indie film. I’d usually end up understanding some issue he was struggling with, often hearing a character in the film say what I felt Darek might be having trouble telling me. I’ll admit it: I saw some awesome movies I’m certain I would have passed over had it not been for his urging me to watch them.

The same might be said about this book, Ishmael. I am anxious to get to the library to borrow the sequels. And if they are not available, I may break my “no buying new books” rule I’ve had since I stopped working and make a trip to Barnes and Noble to get them.

I read this book in less than two days, picking it up every chance I got. After the first couple of chapters I said to my husband, “I’m not getting why Darek was so enthralled with a talking gorilla.” A couple of hours later my husband noticed that I’d finished more than half of the book. “I take it the gorilla stopped talking?” “Well…..”

It’s difficult to argue with the basic premise of this book. No doubt Darek knew I’d be drawn to it as a past employee and long-time advocate of Planned Parenthood. I see how it has shaped his current politics and the way he’s trying to live his life. More people should read it, that’s for sure.

My only disillusionment came this morning when I did some on-line research and found Daniel Quinn’s website. I realize that his book is a work of fiction, and yet it takes on a quality of “fiction that can change the world”. And in it he claims that prophets are not necessary, and yet his website is set up in such a way to make him appear to be – dare I say it? – a prophet. This takes away from the message of his book, just a tad, in my humble opinion. And that’s a shame.

Yet, I’m going to read more. And think more. Isn’t that what good books are supposed to make us do?

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