5 July 2009

Barry Lopez, Resistance, 2004

Nine loosely connected short stories about how individuals, at times of upheaval or personal challenge, have circumvented the self-defeating behaviours that often seem hardwired into us by our monolithic Western culture. Where a common response would be to live in fear of government, respond to violence with revenge or find salvation in consumerism, greed or misguided wars, Lopez takes his characters on alternative courses of action with each one side-stepping into different ways of thinking, the kind of thing that happens when the irresistable force of the spirit meets the immovable object of a dehumanising but personal circumstance. This all makes precisely the kind of uncommon sense that is rarely found. Resistance may be rooted in the counterculture of the ’60s but Lopez does not take easy refuge in either platitudes or cynicism; he preserves the restlessness of that era but reinvigorates it with maturity, a global awareness and a cautious optimism. A finely-balanced and necessary book, totally relevant to life in the West today.  PY


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