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Common Wilderness, Common Wilderness, 091459074X, 0-914590-74-X, 978-0-914590-74-3, 9780914590743,

Common Wilderness
by Michael Seide

1983. 676 pp.
Price:  $29.95 t

The Common Wilderness is the chronicle of Joe Bellinson who, at the classic age of twenty-one, is in crisis in every facet of his life in a historic time of trouble, namely, the great depression. The drama begins the day he declares he is going to quit his job. It ends after a week which seems like a century. The story itself is as pure as a table-line used in drawing. The protagonist is such a thinking animal that he compels the writing to be as dense as it is polyphonic in order to incorporate this added dimension, this aura of a mind in action. Above all, he is a natural in-person who quickly attains a plural identity as he moves with increasing awareness and excitement through this vast urban conglomeration of things multiplied by people. People themselves are the themes. It is through this inescapable presence of people that he discovers that he cannot act independently without involving others, that the basic human condition is not merely one of isolation, but also one of almost indescribable complicity. The terrible stalks him everywhere. Yet each path of the maze of this common wilderness which he invades, and through which he must wander, is quickened by his wit and illuminated by his wonder. Until finally it is for us as it is for him. One of the truly tremendous journeys in life is to travel from terror to revelation. At the heart of which is a universal and overwhelming compassion. The Common Wilderness succeeds in taking such a giant step.

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