Beyond the CascadeeBook - 2013
Beyond the Cascade is an adventure story with a feminist bias and a metaphysical plot. It intends to blend the perennial magic of Gulliver's Travels with the metaphysics of Richard Bach, or more recently, The Celestine Prophecy. Other voices which might be said to provide some of the intersecting qualities that make it up: M. Scott Peck, Pearl Buck, Saint-Exupery, Frijof Capra, Robert Pirsig, Robert Ruark, and Thomas Mann. Hesse and perhaps to a small degree Kafka could also shine some light on the nature of the protagonist, thirty-something alpha-chick Suzannah Grant. An ordinary observer would see her as spunky, driven, brilliant, and a force of nature. She has reached the threshold of major acclaim in her field as a linguistic anthropologist, and is facing, at the same time, a black pit of crushing defeat with the onset of clinical depression, apparently genetic. The onset of this dark and insoluble barrier threatens her entire career, her relationships and her own sense of self-worth and drive just at a point where she is on the threshold of major successes. Medical help, her own ferocious determination, and psychiatric insights all fail to combat the encroaching fog of enervating depression; her psychiatrist finally tells her her prescription is just to "learn new things". Her pursuit of some relief from the cold darkness within leads her to the memoirs of a Victorian-era British explorer describing his discoveries in the hinterlands of Africa, and his report of a tribal group whose language is unique among human language families, an isolate. The peculiarity of his descriptions stir something in her. Following this instinct, she gradually grows completely involved with discovering all she can about the language, the strange tribe and their mystic site in the high back country, a towering cascade which they hold as tabu to outsiders, but which to them carries great significance. The strange qualities of the people of the Cascade--transcendent calm and benevolence beyond anything the British explorer has encountered elsewhere--and the mysterious significance of the Cascade gradually become more important to her than the linguistic puzzle. She becomes determined --to the point of near-obsession--to penetrate this compound mystery. To get there she has to break through barrier after barrier--the indolence of indifferent excursion guides, the hostility of a tough and aged brujo who protects the old secrets of the tribe, and the physical and metaphysical barriers of the backcountry itself. Harder still, she goes through challenges that force her to re-examine the deepest premises of her own nature, and undo the very anchors of time, mind, and identity that she has used in her life to operate as a human being. These culminate in a series of climatic transformations and resolutions as the several threads of the plot come together. The story is rich with interesting well-woven threads on linguistics, computational theory, and memetics -- but the overall tale is an adventure story which rolls straight to its unexpected climax without lagging.
Publisher: [United States] : BookBaby : Made available through hoopla, 2013
Characteristics: 1 online resource