盲目の予言者 単行本 – 1998/2
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"Every now and then someone comes up to me at a speech or signing and says one of two things. 'I've liked all your books,' I'll be told, 'but there was one I couldn't make heads or tails out of.' Or just the opposite: 'I've read most of your books, but there was one that really knocked me for a loop, and I've read it seventeen times now, and it's completely changed my life.' "It's always the same book. Random Walk." I wrote the book in the spring of 1987, and never was a book more eager to be written. Paradoxically, never was a book less eager to be read--the advance sale was light, the reviews were venomous, and most readers never even knew the book existed. Now it's getting a new lease on life, and I'm delighted. I don't know that it's time has come--it's just as possible it's time has come and gone. But I do know Random Walk has enormous impact on some of the people who read it, and I hope that now they'll have a chance to find it." -Lawrence Block --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
The plot line (if you can even call it that) is simple. Bartender Guthrie, prompted by an inner voice, decides to shuck the rather bland and pointless life he's been living and go on walkabout. He literally walks away from his job, his apartment, his car, and his possessions. As he hikes through Oregon with only a day-pack, he gradually gains a following. An assortment of figures join him for reasons they cannot exactly explain. Each walks away from his or her life in exchange for the freedom of a different kind of journey.
Early on, Guthrie meets Sara, a psychotherapist going rapidly blind from some condition unknown to medicine. As her outer vision constricts and finally disappears altogether, however, her inner vision opens wide. She's guided to leave her home in Indiana and travel west (with her 13 year-old son), arriving in a small Oregon town and parking herself at a specific motel a day before Guthrie and his new companion saunter up the road. Sara becomes the group's blind prophetess.
As the growing band of itinerants make their way through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and onward, they find that their walking results in the healing of old medical ailments and addictions. Psychological wounds of all kinds surface in bouts of tears, rage, or emotional paralysis, to be cleared through breathwork. Miracles abound.
But another plot line weaves through that of the beatific walkers. Mark is a rather bland, simple guy--a husband and father--who's made millions by buying up decrepit properties in foreclosure en masse and renting them out for income. And oh yeah, he gets off on killing women. Lots of women. He decides to take the summer off and go on a killing spree. While the walkers make their way slowly eastward on foot, shedding their possessions and guided only by Guthrie's intuition, Mark drives his Lincoln randomly about the Midwest, ostensibly to accumulate more property that he doesn't need, but in truth scouting out women who attract him in order to kill them. The murders are described in graphic, near clinical detail. They are very hard to stomach and would have been unreadable (and a reason to trash the book) were it not for the counterpoint of the walkers. As the walkers numbers swell to over one hundred, Mark's body count rises in tandem.
In this way, the book showcases two models for the accumulation of power, one centered around communality and love, the other lust and fear. The proponents of these models are clearly destined to collide at some point, and indeed they do, with results that might disappoint and even anger some, but which are wholly consistent with the story's central premise. No big twists or surprises here, except for a key insight into the seeds of Mark's murderous passion.
Random Walk cobbles together many tropes of `New Age' thinking--energetic healing, holotropic breathwork, inner voices, vision quests, the principles of A Course in Miracles, even ironically the Mayan 2012 prophecies. These are offered up so matter-of-factly that I can understand why one Amazon reviewer saw the book as a parody. Some miracles are indeed over-the-top (e.g. the perfect weather and the walkers near invisibility to law enforcement). The inner voice thing could have come off as silly if handled by a lesser writer, but Block knows enough to keep it minimal and unobtrusive. And yes, Sara's disquisitions become a bit preachy and tedious at times: too much holistic info-dump. But Random Walk is not parody. The characters are too real, too serious. And Block's metaphysical knowledge runs too deep. (He quotes directly from A Course in Miracles in at least one instance and paraphrases it several more times.) More significantly, the emotions sparked by the twin story lines are too raw, too heartfelt to be satirical. There's real conviction here and I found it both compelling and moving.
This is not really a novel in any conventional sense of the word. There is no conflict apart from the juxtaposition of good and evil. There is no true protagonist. The characters do grow, but only in service to the overarching theme and not as a result of their interactions at the level of personality. No, the book is better regarded as an extended parable, a modern day Bible story. Think Exodus, (Sara mentions the burning bush) with the Hebrews freed from their oppression in Egypt and wandering on foot through the wilderness toward some Promised Land as yet unknown to them, guided by divine providence in the figure of Moses. In this sense, like Exodus, Random Walk recounts a spiritual journey. (I admit my bias here: I did after all write a book, From Plagues to Miracles: The Transformational Journey of Exodus, from the Slavery of Ego to the Promised Land of Spirit, that views Exodus as a roadmap for the spiritual journey.) Random Walk is also a cautionary tale about the dangers facing humankind, and an inspiring portrait of the nature of true healing, how it has no limits except those we impose on ourselves by our own blinkered systems of belief.
If you're skeptical of all phenomena that can't be neatly measured and reproduced in a lab, or if you find the idea of a spiritual reality beyond the realm of the five senses to be anathema, then Random Walk is not a book for you. Pass it by. But if you have felt the tug of unseen guidance in your life, if you've had miraculous encounters that can't be explained by so-called rational means, if you know in your heart that there must be a better way--then drop whatever you're doing and start walking. Join the journey. Read this little treasure of a book.
Our man Guthrie decides to “pack it all in” and undertake the life changing adventure of walking for the sake of walking. He does not plan a destination (well, not one that he cares to admit to, anyway), but the honesty of his personality draws friends (read as ’followers’) like bees to fresh honey. And so it goes. Guthrie walks, and walks, and walks, he befriends, befriends, befriends, and they walk, and walk, walk. That is not to say book is flawed, or boring. It is anything but. The story is fascinating, emotional, and life changing not just for the characters that brighten up your kindle screen, but potentially life changing for anyone lucky enough to read the book, as well.
There is evil on the horizon, however, in the form of a quintessential serial killer who takes a while to get started, but when his modus operandi becomes clear to the reader, will turn out to be one of the most heinous, uber-sick men whovever walked the face of the earth. And of Planet Fiction, even. Naturally you wonder how the two plot strands will be linked, but the immediate afterthought, of course, is that you hope they don’t.
It turns out this book is essentially about salvation. And it is not until you reach the 3rd quarter of the tale that you learn what, precisely, is about to be saved. Parts of the book are beautifully written, and at times can be quite emotional. Topics such as redemption, life changing miracles and self healing are not something you would expect to find in a release from the established world wide master of the crime novel, but there you go. It works so well, and is written in such a way that you find yourself why the great man has not written more like it.
An easy four stars from me.
More please, Mr Block!