Blues for Cannibals

Blues for Cannibals

The Notes from Underground

By Charles Bowden

North Point Press, Hardcover, 9780865476240, 288pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2002


Blues for Cannibals continues the quest Bowden began in Blood Orchid-to discover the headwaters of the sickness that seeps through the American soul, and to consider what it might mean to come fully alive in a time of exalted consumption, global pillage, gated communities, and wholesale destruction of the environment. Down, down he leads us, in intoxicating, nearly hallucinogenic prose-past the Yaqui, the Anasazi, and other ghosts of our collective history, past the hookers, winos, and assorted have-nots outside the prosperous circle by the fire. We meet a prisoner obsessed with painting presidents, sex offenders whose desires are not as alien as we wish, a murderer whose execution does not cure what ails us. "I wound up looking at a world where cannibalism is life," Bowden writes, "and of course, given the diet, a life without a future." He mourns a young artist who couldn't find a reason to keep living and tends a mesquite tree that won't die. And down among its metaphoric roots, he reacquaints us with the appetites-fierce, flawed, human-that might save us too. Blues for Cannibals is scripture for an age when bushes no longer burn.

About the Author

Charles Bowden is a journalist whose work appears regularly in Harper's, Esquire, GQ, and other national publications. He is the author of several previous books of nonfiction. He lives in Tucson.

Praise For Blues for Cannibals

"He seems to me a literary descendant of both Henry Miller's mad and energetic jazz riffs and the passionate rhetoric of James Agee."--Bill Holm, Hungry Mind Review

"A thrillingly good writer whose grandness of vision is only heightened by the bleak originality of his voice."--Ron Hansen, The New York Times Book Review