Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing: Living in the Future

Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing: Living in the Future

by Charles Bowden
     
 

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In Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing, Bowden continues the quest he first set out on—or rather, that grabbed him by the throat and hasn't yet let him go—in the 1995 Blood Orchid ("a first-rate eye-opener to our soul history, the germinal material, vast and brooding, that is always left out of more orthodox (all of them) books about America"—Jim

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Overview

In Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing, Bowden continues the quest he first set out on—or rather, that grabbed him by the throat and hasn't yet let him go—in the 1995 Blood Orchid ("a first-rate eye-opener to our soul history, the germinal material, vast and brooding, that is always left out of more orthodox (all of them) books about America"—Jim Harrison). Where Blood Orchid cast an eye back over the American past, retelling the history of our love affair with violence in Bowden's incantatory, near-hallucinatory voice, Blues for Cannibals turned to the present, tracing the "soul-sickness" underlying our present malaise. Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing continues the mission of this "accidental trilogy," trawling south of the border—a country Bowden's journalism has stamped as his own—and far afield, to post-terrorism Bali and back again to the deserts of the Southwest, where he writes from the point of view of a rattlesnake, and into the wells of memoir, the perspectives coiling back upon themselves to make "a kind of record of our deep hungers, our deep hungers, our deep appetite for homicide, and our endless emptiness as we prowl the midnight streets looking for that thing we are certain will fix us."

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A dark, foreboding meditation on life from the provocative author. In a postscript, Bowden (A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior, 2005, etc.) writes that this unclassifiable blend of memoir, reportage and philosophy, together with his Blood Orchid (1995) and Blues for Cannibals (2002), form an "accidental trilogy" seeking to answer the question, "how can a person live a moral life in a culture of death?" Written in a piercing blur of sharp sentences, the book conjures a landscape of death and loss-from the dead city of New Orleans, where "night comes down like the lid on a garbage can," to terrorist-bombed Bali-in which people attempt to explain the reality that is all around them. Bowden notes, however, that our ability to express ourselves through writing is often inaccurate, even artificial. "But words are all I have," he writes, "my skills are limited and the words at best are a veil, maybe even a shroud, between us and this world we touch but cannot embrace, a ball of dirt we stand on but never can really know." The author embraces all manner of experience, including drink, lovemaking, violence and nature. He declares himself a man at the edge, forever engaged in foolhardy and dangerous activities, always accepting but never submitting. "I have been walking out the door on peace and quiet most of my life," he writes. We see him trying to make sense of his childhood in Illinois, womanizing in Mexico, at sea on a 600-ton fishing vessel and firing his rifle carelessly at a coal train while driving across a desert in his pickup truck. Undoubtedly an acquired taste, Bowden's breakneck writing is bracing and irreverent. Yet a zenlike calm lies at the heart of hisbleak vision, one that he calls "snake-time," where he can simply be like the rattlesnake. In the end, he writes, love is the only thing that matters. Affirms Bowden's place in the cranky Edward Abbey-Hunter S. Thompson school of Western individualists.
Booklist

"Bowden is a blood-and-guts journalist with a poet’s sensibility, a noirish naturalist, a ferociously inquisitive witness to life’s glory and horror torn between the desire to embrace the world and the need to hole up in a drapes-drawn motel room...Writing with molten urgency, confessional magnetism, and piercing detail, Bowden chronicles his unlikely friendships with a rattlesnake and a desert tortoise, enigmatic encounters with women, the psychic repercussions of his murder investigations, and his part in a terrifying Greenpeace mission. Red wine, Moby Dick, human brutality, the suffering of other species, the obdurateness of paradox, the ambush of love, beauty beyond comprehension, the immensity of loss implicit in our planetary crimes––Bowden, singing in chains, says yes to all of life."

— Donna Seaman

Booklist - Donna Seaman
"Bowden is a blood-and-guts journalist with a poet’s sensibility, a noirish naturalist, a ferociously inquisitive witness to life’s glory and horror torn between the desire to embrace the world and the need to hole up in a drapes-drawn motel room...Writing with molten urgency, confessional magnetism, and piercing detail, Bowden chronicles his unlikely friendships with a rattlesnake and a desert tortoise, enigmatic encounters with women, the psychic repercussions of his murder investigations, and his part in a terrifying Greenpeace mission. Red wine, Moby Dick, human brutality, the suffering of other species, the obdurateness of paradox, the ambush of love, beauty beyond comprehension, the immensity of loss implicit in our planetary crimes––Bowden, singing in chains, says yes to all of life."
From the Publisher
"Bowden is a blood-and-guts journalist with a poet’s sensibility, a noirish naturalist, a ferociously inquisitive witness to life’s glory and horror torn between the desire to embrace the world and the need to hole up in a drapes-drawn motel room . . . Writing with molten urgency, confessional magnetism, and piercing detail, Bowden chronicles his unlikely friendships with a rattlesnake and a desert tortoise, enigmatic encounters with women, the psychic repercussions of his murder investigations, and his part in a terrifying Greenpeace mission. Red wine, Moby Dick, human brutality, the suffering of other species, the obdurateness of paradox, the ambush of love, beauty beyond comprehension, the immensity of loss implicit in our planetary crimes––Bowden, singing in chains, says yes to all of life."—Booklist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547545158
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/09/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
0 MB

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