take it or leave it

I got Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael from the library on a friend’s recommendation. I tried, but I don’t feel the love for the psychic gorilla.

It’s not that the wise protagonist is a psychic gorilla. I can get past that. It’s just that the conclusions are so pat. I wonder how many readers come away with the romantic notion that they’re the only Leaver in a Taker society? (they’re wrong, of course; I’m the only one to which this applies …)

I also didn’t get the “Takers need prophets” deal. if you decide to follow the ideas in the book, what is Ishmael but a prophet? A not-for-prophet?

Writers like Jared Diamond (though flawed) and Julian Cope (though fried; but at least can play mellotron) wrote it better. Ain’t but the one way, as the Drude sang.

What I did like about the library copy that I borrowed was that it had clearly made an impression on a previous reader. Crabbed on every page in tiny, infra-neat madperson handwriting was a seemingly endless thesis about something. What, I can’t tell; the diligent guardians of the Toronto Public Library erased almost every word, so I couldn’t tell if a worldview had been shattered or affirmed. Maybe it was the wisdom of the ages. Who can tell?

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