cover image Through the Arc of the Rain Forest

Through the Arc of the Rain Forest

Karen Tei Yamashita. Coffee House Press, $12.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-918273-82-6

This satiric morality play about the destruction of the Amazon rain forest unfolds with a diversity and fecundity equal to its setting. First-novelist Yamashita blends the matter-of-fact surrealism of Garcia Marquez, bizarre science fiction twists a la Stanislaw Lem, and a gift for satirizing bureaucracy that recalls Heller of Catch 22 --all in a Chaucerian framework. But in the end it is the author's unique voice that emerges. A Japanese-American who has lived in Los Angeles and Brazil, Yamashita seems to have thrown into the pot everything she knows and most that she can imagine--all to good effect. The cast includes: the unusual narrator, a small ball that whirls near the forehead of a Japanese living in Brazil; American Jonathan B. Tweep, a three-armed businessman who develops the Theory of Trialectics; Mane Pena, who makes his fortune through ``Featherology,'' the art of healing with feathers; and a couple whose pigeon-raising hobby turns into a national obsession and big business. The seemingly disparate plot lines converge explosively in the rain forest on the Matacao, a mysterious shiny plateau that at first offers wealth and miracles, and eventually death and disaster. (Sept.)