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Sanctuary: A Tale of Life in the Woods Paperback – November 1, 1999

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Paul Monette's deceptively simple fable, Sanctuary, Renarda the fox and Lapine the rabbit fall in love in an enchanted forested watched over by a benevolent witch. That Renarda and Lapine are both female and of different species proves no impediment to their love, until the witch mysteriously disappears and her familiar, the Great Horned Owl, takes over. Suddenly, the animals are advised to "keep an ear cocked for any behavior that doesn't feel quite right," and all at once Renarda and Lapine are banished to separate parts of the forest.

Activist and writer Paul Monette authored six novels and four collections of poetry, including National Book Award-winner Becoming a Man, before succumbing to AIDS in 1995. Renarda and Lapine's eventual triumph over the forces of fear and ignorance is an apt memorial for a man who led the fight against both for so many years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"It may not have been?how could it have been??the very last forest. But to all the creatures who lived there...." Like a shaman, Monette?the novelist, poet, essayist, AIDS activist and National Book Award winner (Becoming a Man) who died of AIDS in 1995?creates a magic space within this animal fable, which resonates with wisdom and grace. This posthumous offering is an amazingly tender parable of same-sex love full of political overtones sounding Monette's lifelong themes of social justice, the need for tolerance of diversity and the fluid nature of sexual selves. The romantic love that blossoms between Renarda the Fox and Lapine the Rabbit is doubly wrong in the eyes of the dictatorial Great Horned Owl who presides over their forest realm?wrong because it's interspecies and because it's between two females. The Owl (not a wise bird here) commands all the forest creatures to spy on one another and to report any "differentness." By splitting up the forest's denizens into two races?First Ones and second-class "refugees"?the Owl sows antagonism and fear, fostering a network of spies and snitches. The lovers, once discovered, are charged with "crimes against nature," arrested and banished to separate rehabilitation camps, until a bumbling apprentice wizard, Albertus the Lesser, exposes the Owl as an impostor and transforms the forest into a haven of tolerance and love. Monette's complex, quicksilver prose aims at the heart and never misses. His entrancing tale is illustrated throughout with luminous, spectral pictures that enhance the moonlit aura of enchantment.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555835317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555835316
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,248,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Reardon on October 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Such a cute little tail ... er ... tale! I think it would be great if someone would solicit fairytale stories from current best-selling authors, and compile them. Certainly this one deserves to be the frontispiece. In the forward the editor mentions that this is a fable about the gay and lesbian experience, and it is. Yet it can be read and understood by adult and child alike without hitting the reader over the head. First and foremost it is a love story. It also tells of the abuse of power, and how a people can fall so easily under the spell of a strong personality, and follow that person's hatred down the path that leads to persecution of those around them who are in some way different.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sakkano Imako on January 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sanctuary: A Tale of Life in the Woods, is a touching fable about a rabbit and a fox who fall in love at the wrong time. Not only does the woodland creatures think a fox and rabbit should not love each other, they also are repulsed by the fact the two animals are both female.
The sory itself was created from scraps of the author's works, since he died before it's completion. The selling point to this book lies in the gorgeous illustrations. I personally would like to have the cover blown up and framed to hang in my living room. The second selling point of this books is that it teaches children about matters of love that most of the population of North America have deemed as taboo. Overall this is a very decent and useful book in teaching children.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jack Kirven on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the most important aspect of a tale is its moral lesson: the point here is acceptance. as a gay author monette was interested in helping people in general to understand and accept those of alternative gender/sexuality/health status. he was excrutiatingly honest and allowed the world to know him deeply in his autobiographical texts. in this "lighter" work he brings his lessons of love to the young in the hopes that they might grow up to know compassion and empathy. the lessons are subtle but powerful, and the metaphors and analogies are intelligent: monette does not patronize. i would say the story is appropriate for children and adults, and that its inentions are courageous and focused.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Wayne Dworsky on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
To read this is to see the plight of the forest creatures from their point of view. The animals in the forest convey how they feel about two different animals that share their affection, where others despise such a union. Each critter has his own opinion of how things should be and each differs from the others. Some feel disturbed while others threatened. The owl is wise. He understood the distinctions between the different animals and knew he had to lay down laws of nature.

Actually, the affair between the rabbit and fox marks only a small part of the greater picture. Sanctuary tells of the innate abilities of each creature, how they came to individuals from their parents. A tale of life in the woods drawing upon the roles each animal plays in the larger scheme of things. Each is born to a special life. Rabbit and fox seem to violate the sanctity of what the forest bestows. Yet, Paul Monette cleverly sees how variations evolve. It is a tale of how two individuals dare to go a different way, apart from their origin, changing the order of things. It is the kernel of change, the cornerstone of evolutionary processes. Even the wise old owl had to rethink what he thought was the way things are supposed to be.

The reader's responsibility is to allow himself or herself to be permeated with the theme and enter the realm of the author. To find the depths of his literary genius we must allow the language to enter our soul and then ride the waves of its insight.

The book has a mystical quality, yielding its secrets slowly, the way nature works. Its style is consistent, compact and economical. It seems as though the author has his theme and his message under full control.
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