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Monday, June 22, 2009

Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), by Charles Bowden

Book Review

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American journalist Charles Bowden's newest memoir is a rambling stream of consciousness that weaves his experiences as a young boy in a small town with his time spent running with heroin dealers in Mexico. The main theme revolves around lessons learned about migratory birds, elephants and rattlesnakes and how this study can transform man into a less complex and more ecologically friendly partner with his environment. Paradoxically, however, the brunt of these experiences are saddled in a quagmire of depression, substance abuse and confusion that is highlighted by grandiose reminiscences of extraordinary near-death experiences and over-used references to his many sexual interludes with a variety of women. At times reminiscent of Hunter Thompson, Bowden's exploits lead to no logical conclusions and fall short of Thompson's swashbuckling realism. In all, this book is a sad amalgam of wistful regret and a search for meaning that is forever out of reach.