cover image From Beginning to End:: The Rituals of Our Lives

From Beginning to End:: The Rituals of Our Lives

Robert Fulghum. Villard Books, $20 (273pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41961-7

In this free-form meditation, former Unitarian minister Fulghum (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten) examines how people impart meaning and structure to their lives through public rituals-weddings, funerals, high school reunions, church services-as well as myriad private and interpersonal rituals that mark events and preserve memories. Ritual, in his broad discussion, includes the repetitive yet crucial chores of parenting, learning to drive a car, walking home alone from school for the first time, one's first sexual encounter, prayer and thousands of ``little deaths and little rebirths,'' such as partings and reconciliations. Fulghum movingly describes his recent reunion with his long-lost daughter, whom he and his fiancee had secretly placed with an adoption agency in small-town Texas in 1958. He writes with the calm wisdom and gentle reassurance that marked his previous bestsellers. First serial to Good Housekeeping, Modern Maturity and Penthouse; Literary Guild main selection; author tour. (Apr.)