The Celestine Prophesy

cark green, all-text cover does not suggest adventure
Try not to get too excited.

James Redfield’s novel The Celestine Prophesy is quasi-spiritual book about an American who goes to Peru where a 600 B.C. Mayan manuscript written in Aramaic has been found showing how to achieve peace on earth in the third millennium A.D.

The Catholic Church is trying to confiscate all translations of the 10 chapters of the text, which it considers to be heresy. “This document makes it sound as though humans are in control,” a Catholic cardinal says.

The unnamed man must try to avoid being caught with pieces of the text, which he does mainly by getting in a truck and going someplace else.

The book predicts that  people will “vibrate at a new level” and “consciously engage evolution” until, in the 21st century, humans will voluntarily reduce their population, intentionally let forests grow uncut, and “the means of survival—foodstuffs and clothing and transportation—will be totally automated and at everyone’s disposal.”

At the end of his adventure—which is about as exciting as a trip to the bathroom—the man goes back to America, presumably taking with him insights he has learned:

“Live one millennium at a time.”

“Breathe in energy.”

“Consciously engage evolution.”

“Onward and upward!”

The Celestine Prophesy: An Adventure
by James Redfield
Warner Books. ©1993. 246 p.
1994 bestseller #3; my grade: C-

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Bridge of San Luis Rey Toppled by Weighty Prose

The Bridge of San Luis Rey won Thornton Wilder a Pulitzer Prize in 1928. The novel has since been ignored in favor of less literary but more entertaining reading.

The story is this. In 1714, a woven-willow bridge outside Lima broke plunging five people to their deaths. A monk who saw them fall decides to prove that the collapse was not an accident but a demonstration of God’s perfect wisdom.

Brother Juniper spends six years investigating. He accumulates mountains of information, but never gets any closer to knowing why those people died rather than some other five people.

When the Inquisition burns Brother Juniper and his book, he’s not even sure of the purity of his own motives.

After Brother Juniper’s death the paths of those the victims left behind cross just as the victims’ paths had. And an observer wouldn’t be able to say what, if any, purpose their lives served.

Like Brother Juniper’s book, Wilder’s book is a report, not a memoir. He builds his characters from bits; they aren’t organic wholes. And, like Brother Juniper, Wilder tacks a vague moral on the tail end of ponderous prose.

Unlike Brother Juniper’s book, Wilder’s novel doesn’t require burning. It’s so dull, it will just crumble away.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey
By Thornton Wilder
Grosset & Dunlap, c1927
235 pages
#1 bestseller in 1928
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni