Santa Barbara, CA (PRWEB) May 8, 2006
Announcing the availability of The Great Western Divide to the book trade and its availability for review. The Great Western Divide is a unique blend of descriptions of the inner and outer landscapes of life. The book is not only exemplary nature writing with great historical detail, but also serves as a guide for the critical examination of the human mind and spirit.
“The Great Western Divide is a story of immense beauty and power, ebbing and flowing like a river, bending and heading back when meeting a barrier, rushing frantically through rapids or over cliffs to form a waterfall, or barely discernible through dry river beds….Spivey is a gifted writer. He is a master storyteller, creating characters and drama simply and effectively, reaching a critical point and then moving on only to return at the appropriate time later to continue the story. The same is true with his multiple narratives and themes which are taken to a critical point, only to be temporarily abandoned while he works on another pattern in the tapestry. In effect, he skillfully lays emotional, intellectual, and spiritual traps for the reader to sustain suspense.”
--Mark Schannon, reviewer for BlogCritics.com
The Great Western Divide: A History with Crow, Coyote, Chaos and God by John Spivey (http://www.crowscry.com) is unlike any other book you may have read. It can only be compared to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in its examination of the terrain of the mind. The Great Western Divide, however, is a lyrical examination not only of the terrain of the backcountry of the mind but also of the hard physicality of the landscape of the San Joaquin Valley of California and of the foothills and backcountry of the southern Sierra Nevada.
The Great Western Divide gains its name from a range of peaks in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park and is the source of the Kaweah River along whose banks the author’s family settled in the 1850’s at the tail end of the frenzy of the Gold Rush. Spivey describes his relationship with the land in the following fashion.
"I was born and raised where the foothills meet the San Joaquin Valley there below. Dutch Bill Mehrten, my German great, great grandfather, settled in the foothills as a boy after the Gold Rush in 1854. He raised cattle and wheat, sold horses to the stagecoach lines. This country is so a part of me that I sometimes think if you were to take a cross section of my brain and study all of its convolutions, its whorls and ridges, that it would look surprisingly like these Sierra foothills with all of its manzanita and oak, its granite and yellowed grasses. The Great Western Divide looms as the source of all that sustains and defines this terrain of mind. What has it divided and what has it provided? The Kaweah runs through my mind. Where has it started and where does it go?"
The Great Western Divide also comes to stand as a metaphor for the things in life that separate us from understanding the true nature of what it means to be a human being.
Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki said, “When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything.” Ultimately The Great Western Divide is a journal of Spivey’s exploration to understand his own life through and through. The book functions in the manner of the journals of Lewis and Clark in its descriptions of the landscapes of the inner and outer worlds. The landscape of The Great Western Divide is populated by the Yokuts Indians, Clarence King (the first white explorer of the mountains of the Great Western Divide), the Buddha, Lao-tsu, the characters of the author’s own family, salmon, the Holy Grail, and the ghost of a ninety-mile long lake that no longer exists.
The book invites readers into a journey that may alter their perception of the nature of their own lives and their relationship to life itself. In the words of the above reviewer, “If one is receptive, the first reading will begin to create life change, and it will become a book that one will return to again and again for guidance.”
The Great Western Divide:
A History with Crow, Coyote Chaos and God
published by CrowsCry Press (http://www.crowscry.com)
November 2005. Hardcover. 224 pages. $25.00
Available to the trade through New Leaf Distributing and Baker & Taylor
Also available at Amazon.com (http://301url.com/AmazonGWD)
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