Sunday, April 26, 2009

Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman * * * *

Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman is one of those recursive novels: a story about writing the story. In a light style, Anne Cushman's first novel presents Amanda's three intertwined missions: (1) Write the book Enlightenment for Idiots for which she's already spent the advance, (2) Find her own personal enlightenment for which she is traveling from ashram to sacred cave throughout India (expenses paid by her publisher), and (3) Prepare for the birth of her (fatherless) baby.

In a mixture of travelogue and friends-and-feelings, Amanda's optimism carries her through what is actually a horrific vacation from hell.
Don't worry. If enlightenment doesn't work out, you can always apply to graduate school.
The book is full of yoga references and should be a delight to anyone interested in yoga and the various Indian meditation practices.

LGBT Book Watch: While the book is centered around Amanda's search for enlightenment and finding a father for her baby with some discussion of celibate monk and nuns, there is one mention of lesbians (at a birthing class in San Francisco).
I even envied the lesbian couple, two women in their early forties who held hands throughout the whole class. ... They shopped around for months to find the right anonymous donor, an antinuclear activist with a Mensa-level IQ ... By contrast, my own pregancy seemed randon, as if my baby were a stray kitten that had followed me home.

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