cover image Providence: The Story of a Fifty Year VIS

Providence: The Story of a Fifty Year VIS

Daniel Quinn. Bantam Books, $19.95 (175pp) ISBN 978-0-553-10018-1

Quinn's novel Ishmael, a cult favorite, elaborated an ecologically sound mythology for our time and won a Ted Turner award for fiction that offers solutions to global problems. In this windy, slow-moving memoir, Quinn summarizes Ishmael's vision of the universe, upholding the spirit-worship practiced by animist peoples as a viable alternative to Christianity and Judaism, religions he views as largely irrelevant. He tells how, as a 19-year-old Trappist novice in Kentucky, he received encouragement from a golden-headed guardian angel but was then ordered to leave the Gethsemani monastery by Thomas Merton, his spiritual director. Then came psychoanalysis in Chicago, a marriage whose failure he blamed on his sexual inadequacies, divorce and a successful career in educational publishing. Quinn's trajectory from ``fundamentalist Roman Catholic'' to animist marks an unusual odyssey. (June)