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Resistance Hardcover – June 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lopez, author of the National Book Award–winning Arctic Dreams and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction (Light Action in the Caribbean; Of Wolves and Men; etc.), explores opposition and defiance—to globalization, xenophobia, political and cultural hegemony, conspicuous consumption, environmental degradation—in a slim, brooding collection of timely fictional testimonials. "Apocalypse" sets the stage, as an American curator living in France receives an ominous official letter from "Inland Security," expressing "widespread irritation with our work, and the government's desire to speak with us." Through coded e-mails, he determines that all over the world, friends similarly engaged in "chip[ping] away like coolies at the omnipotent and righteous façade" have received the same missive. They agree to vanish, leaving behind a record of their political and spiritual awakenings. In "Mortise and Tenon," a land activist and carpenter reflects on his years of travel, his childhood abuse and an act of terrible violence that put him on a new path toward healing. Vietnam left the narrator of "Traveling with Bo Ling" a "blind eunuch with a face of melted wax," but through the love of a Vietnamese woman, he learns to seek knowledge and experience. In "The Bear in the Road," an attorney searching for a spirit guide in the form of an elusive Plains grizzly struggles with issues of responsibility and inner peace. Many of the nine narrators are wanderers; all of them move toward self-knowledge and engagement; each relates his or her story in the same reserved, dignified voice. Passionate in feeling but cool in rhetoric, these testimonials feel like haunting fragments of committed lives; though not always satisfying as straight fiction, they are powerful as artistic argument, suggesting that resistance is the natural state of the conscious and thoughtful. With nine monotypes by Alan Magee.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the opening short story in National Book Award-winning Lopez's latest hard-hitting and startlingly original collection, which follows the astonishing Light Action in the Caribbean (2000), an American living in Paris receives an alarming letter from his homeland's Office of Inland Security, informing him that because he and his far-flung circle of fellow writers, scholars, and artists are "terrorizing the imaginations of our fellow citizens" with their antidemocratic works, they will be "sought out" and dealt with. Owen and his friends quickly exchange e-mails before going underground, testifying to the personal traumas that inspired their adamant resistance to their country's beliefs in war, the pursuit of wealth, rampant materialism, conformity, and complacency. The self-invented pilgrims Lopez imagines have either survived abuse and violence or resisted the numbing comforts of privileged lives. Men and women living all around the world, they include a cabinetmaker, historian, indigenous rights expert, translator, architect, and physician. Boldly conceived and beautifully formed, Lopez's bracing and courageous tales of spiritual awakenings and ecological perceptions elucidate the heroism inherent in resistance to all forms of fundamentalism, greed, insularity, fearmongering, and self-righteousness. Dramatic, unique, and provocative, these are essential stories for polarized times. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400042208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400042203
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barry Lopez (b. 1945) is the author of thirteen books of essays, short stories, and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the National Book Award, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous other literary and cultural honors and awards. His highly acclaimed books include Arctic Dreams, Winter Count, and Of Wolves and Men, for which he received the John Burroughs and Christopher medals. He lives in western Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' on June 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For anyone old enough to know the difference between Joe and Jenny McCarthy, the vernacular of Homeland Security might seem like deja vu all over again, merely substituting the word "terrorist" in the verbal cranny formerly occupied by "communist."
And while Barry Lopez certainly doesn't argue the clear and present danger real terrorists pose to Americans, he goes to great lengths in "Resistance" -- neither a novel nor short-story collection, but a fictional dossier of distress -- to point out the cure might be almost as abhorrent as the pox.
It is nine personal tales of disaffection, pain and flight. A blinded Vietnam veteran grapples with the horror of war and his own participation in it. A lame carpenter wandering through India meets some attackers with uncommon ferocity and his existence is transformed. A young woman contemplates ancient ways and human evolution on a camel trek across an Asian desert.
Each fictional autobiographical essay -- also presumably left in plain sight as the writer flees a different foreign city ahead of faceless American authorities -- is accompanied by a haunting monotype by artist Allen Magee. The imaginative blend of words and art, especially the wounded faces of Magee's unique portraits, is rare in fiction and, in this case, evocative.
For all its imaginative value, "Resistance" is not above a few small criticisms.
Primarily, the passionate and post-modern Lopez -- the National Book Award-winning author of "Arctic Dreams" and "Light Action in the Caribbean" -- doesn't differentiate the voices of his nine characters enough to give them the uniqueness of humanity. They all seem to share Lopez's voice, and as singular as it is, the reader encounters them more as nine version of the same individual rather than nine distinctive people.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Caelan Baldridge Heywood on January 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barry Lopez continues in Resistance the legacy he established in Of Wolves and Men: an intelligent, balanced estimation of the conditions that underlie our human experiences in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century, the psychological conditions that motivate us to try to do something other than follow the trajectories of agribusiness, mass media, our beloved iPhones . . . .local and human-scaled economies seem to be the only possibility left in the collapse of globalization, which is currently manifesting itself in multiple ways, underwritten by the twinned realities of climate change and peak oil . . . Lopez anticipates these conditions, and imagines how we might live otherwise, committed to alternative values . . .because this was written in 2005, it was hard to imagine what might happen "what if" there were something like grid crash, which becomes an omnipresent reality in 2010 . ..
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Bergstrom on July 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It does not try for the attainments of great literature, but this little book is well worth reading. It may remind you of Ursula K Leguin - the loving attention to various traditional ways of life, attention to how perceptions and relationships can mature a long time, then shift to a new level - if people are willing to let anything mature for a long time, in this new age of instant insights and inexorable progress. A chilling little dystopian framework holds the chapters lightly together, putting everything in an ominous light.
But all the threat comes from very far away - they would be serious stories, rather than just sketches, if some of the characters themselves showed some greed or selfishness, or any of the other faults of Mordor (I mean, Washington). Like when we used to say, the battle line runs through the human heart. But, they are excellent sketches (one of the characters makes sketches), altogether a very nice addition to Lopez's work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first of these nine stories sets the pattern for the other eight. Owen Daniels, an American expatriate living with his wife in Paris, receives a letter from one of the shadowy branches of the US government that came into being in the early 2000s. In its Orwellian language are mentions of special arms of the Justice Department, the Patriot Act, threats of Extraordinary Rendition, and throwbacks to an earlier McCarthyism. The message: you are being watched; we suspect you of working against the ideals of our country; come in for questioning, or we will come for you. Instead of complying, Owen contacts a number of like-minded friends all over the world -- artists, humanitarians, mystics -- suggesting that they move from their present locations, leaving only a personal statement for the agents to read. "Instead of a defense of the Republic, thrown in the corporate face of your governance, instead of another map to the kingdom of your frauds, an exposé of your pursuit of the voter as a mail-order customer, we give you a description of the events that changed us, that led to our decisions no longer to be silent, no longer to hunker down in the small rooms of our lives." These stories are those documents.

A marvelous premise, but the book quickly gets preachy. I was reminded of stories my mother used to read me as a child, about people who had undergone Christian conversions. Those characters ranged from drunkards and thieves to outwardly successful businessmen doing good things for the wrong reasons. But Lopez concentrates only on the latter group. Although their physical locations and some of their circumstances are different, the writers are all Ivy League baby-boomers, and they all speak with the same voice.
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