cover image The Best Kept Secrets

The Best Kept Secrets

Charles Wright. Book World/Blue Star, $12.95 (222pp) ISBN 978-1-881542-38-4

One reader's mystical wisdom is another reader's folk tale. Although the 12 stories in this volume are supposed to disclose ""secrets which have been hidden from most mortal minds,"" there are no great revelations to be found here. ""The Secret of the Candle"" depicts the last hours of an old man preparing to join his deceased wife in the afterlife. Lessons in ecology and spiritual self-confidence are taught in ""The Secret of the Mist,"" ""The Secret of the Wind"" and ""The Secret of the Skywatchers."" After these and other moral admonishments, the final story, ""The Secret of the Century,"" suggests that the stories were created by none other than Ernest Hemingway (here spelled ""Hemmingway""), who faked his suicide and kept writing, leaving the stories to Wright to be published after his true death. As with much New Age fiction, the major influence here seems to come from Native American folklore, with a utopian spiritualist twist. But it's as difficult to glean any fresh insights into universal truths from these tales as it is to believe that Papa was, after 1961, ""not only alive and well, but... living right here in Winthrop, Maine."" (Oct.)