The Gentle People

Era Zistel, Author J.N. Townsend Publishing $9.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-9617426-2-1
Out of print since 1965, this seductive work by the author of Thistle & Co. lulls with warm memoirs, replete with small furry bodies, that startle like an exploding rose. Her many characters are mostly animals (except for a few humans, including the author's husband Eric, a specterlike shape in the background): Mrs. R., the trade rat; chipmunks Bricks and Napper; the goat Griselda; Lolly, a rabbit who loved a cat; Jake the skunk; Ginky the opossum; and Gretel the raccoon. Muff, a wooly black stray dog, enriches their lives until she grows old and dies. ``I called Eric, he knelt beside her, put his hand on the still body, stroked the rumpled fur, and suddenly doubled over. It was the only time I ever saw him cry, except one other, shortly before I found him dead, the gun fallen from his hand.'' Zistel leaves us wondering about her husband's suicide as we read accounts brimming with death and sadness. Yet her brand of existential philosophy teaches acceptance: ``Who among us can say that the long life with no spice of peril, only failing senses, is the better one?'' And she believes there is life after death for both humans and animals: ``All those who are loved live on.'' Photos. (August)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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