cover image Long Quiet Highway

Long Quiet Highway

Natalie Goldberg. Bantam Books, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-07245-7

A self-described ``Jewish-American from Long Island, feminist, writer, rebel with a hippie past,'' Goldberg, whose previous books concern writing and spirituality ( Writing Down the Bones ), here recounts her story of her own development. Goldberg's unadorned prose, presented in dialogue-rich scenes and flashbacks, effectively conveys how the act of writing, accompanied by study of Zen Buddhism, served as a ``vehicle for transformation'' out of her suburban alienation. But her reliance on ``no-blame-no-praise'' Zen as well as her powerful attachment to her Zen master may vex skeptics. Her book describes encounters with both inspiring and ineffective teachers from her schooldays in the 1950s and early 1960s, her own stab at teaching school, her escape to a commune in Taos founded by Ram Dass, her Zen awakening in the city of Minneapolis and her move to New Mexico, where her teaching and writing flowered. Though Goldberg sees writing mainly as a tool for self-development, her often familiar exhortations apply to literary aspirants as well: write under all circumstances and ground yourself in detail. (Feb.)