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Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle Paperback – April 16, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First Edition first Printing edition (April 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158243011X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582430119
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As the generation that launched America's counterculture in the 1960s matures into its gray ponytails and 401(k) plans, one might expect the autobiographies of its celebrities to be tinged with apology for goals unrealized. Indeed, with only a few notable exceptions, such as Peter Fonda's Don't Tell Dad, most celebrity autobiographies from '60s pop culture icons seem rooted in either bitterness or desperation. Fortunately, in Sleeping Where I Fall, Peter Coyote neither apologizes for his wild days nor waxes romantic for them. Nor should he.

This wise and witty, tightly crafted narrative reports on the turbulence of that era with philosophical integrity, wry humor, and unmitigated honesty. Looking back over his days with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a street theater group that sought to break the conventional boundaries between performer and audience, Coyote rhapsodizes with equal vigor about the company's artistic triumphs and the pulchritude of its actresses. While his developing acting career and romantic misadventures comprise a great deal of the narrative, an even larger part dwells on his life as one of The Diggers, the band of anarchistic counterculturalists who fought against commercial culture's ability to co-opt the superficial elements of youthful rebellion by rejecting the very notions of ownership and extrinsic value. "The Diggers," writes Coyote, "understood that style is infinitely co-optable. What could not be co-opted was doing things for free-without money." And what things they did! Coyote recounts the lives and times of poets, actors, farmers, and philosophers who participated in a profound cultural experiment that tested the very limits of human consciousness and fell--eventually--to the excesses of personal indulgence.

Coyote's evolution from callow thespian to revolutionary communard to seasoned philosopher is fascinating, as much a social and political history as it is a reminiscence. The stories unravel like tender after-dinner tales in prose that captures the rasp and tickle of Coyote's corduroy voice. In the end, Sleeping Where I Fall reveals a man as complex and unpredictable as the totem animal from which he takes his name. --L.A. Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Coyote not only survived the excesses of the Sixties and Seventies but emerged from years of journeying through the counterculture to achieve success as an actor. Considering the numerous casualties among radicals, who, like Coyote, were heroin junkies living on the edge of society, this is a rare feat. In this frank yet sensitive memoir of those years, Coyote contradicts romantic notions of communes by recalling the discord and petty disagreements typical in his own communal living experiences at Olema ranch and Red House. He describes the chaos created by the Diggers, an antiestablishment group of which he is usually considered a founding member and leader, famous for their stores where everything was given away free, and he remembers his stoned life in Haight-Ashbury. Eventually, he surfaced to work with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, for which he received a special Obie Award. Coyote's thoughtful, articulate writing displays a compassionate wisdom that puts this chronicle in a class above the typical actor's autobiography. Highly recommended for relevent subject collections in academic as well as public libraries.?Richard W. Grefrath, Univ. of Nevada Lib., Reno
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I'm savoring every page.
Jim Higgins (jhiggins@arts.vca.state.vt.us
He is full of contradictions, but that's what makes him interesting.
P. Christie
Coyote's book is the best that I have read on the subject.
A Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Donald W. McFarland on December 31, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read other reviewers taking Peter Coyote to task for writing what they seem to think is just a self-congratulatory puff piece to satisfy his own ego. I disagree. Not once in the book did I ever see him claim that the existence he and his friends lived was the 'only' way or the 'best' way, nor did he try to make himself out to be some kind of faultless angel who never made a mistake. He simply told, in as straightforward and unembellished a way as possible, what happened in his own personal experience, good and bad, and described the process that took him from one stage of existence to another. That kind of honesty takes courage few of us can claim to have in any level of our lives.
And anyone who was as heavily into drugs as he was to have survived at all, not to mention completely turning their life around and becoming successful in their own chosen field, should be congratulated. I've known enough people in my own experience who didn't, and I grieve for them to this day.
I, for one, am very glad he wrote this book. In 1964 I was only twelve years old and have always felt a bit cheated that I was just too young to have been a part of what I felt even then to be a special and perhaps irreplaceable time. Reading "Sleeping Where I Fall" has given me a sense of almost having been there myself which I've never gotten from any other work on the era in quite the same way.
Thank you for writing this memoir, Peter. I do sincerely appreciate it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Peter Coyote's memoir is a must read for anyone who lived through those crazy and wild times of the 60's. His intimate involvement with so many aspects of the counter culture grass roots movement, his command of the English language,and ability to tell a tale makes this a very enjoyable account.
For me, it was also a sentimental journey. I lived on the Olema farm many years after Peter and his clan had left. His description of the place mirrored many of my own memories. I believe that many new readers will find Peter's account brings back fond and crazy memories.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Several summers ago I began to notice that teenagers were dressing like hippies of the 60's. It made me wonder why the Hippie movement had "failed" and why it was again resurfacing, even if only in costume. Peter Coyote offers some interesting insight.

Today there is a GAP in the Haight; Peter Coyote takes us back to when there was a Free Store there, and discusses its implications. He makes us a part of the experience with his lucid prose and reflective thoughts about a magical time. Mixing his personal experiences with reflective commentary, he presents it warts and all. Besides offering a plethora sixties sex stories for the mass market, Coyote offers some valuable ideas to ponder as well.

There are stories of encounters with the Hopi, who had actually managed to accomplish what the Hippies were trying to do. Stories culled from a diary that still sparkle with the verve of the time. There are stories of how communal life brought comfort and pain, and of how one can more than survive without money or a job, but not without a role to play.

The highlight of the book is an idea Noah Purifoy suggested for problem solving, an artistic approach, an "antipodal shifting between the realms of logic and intuition," the core of the creative process and a problem solving mechanism of the highest order. Coyote shows how it was used during his tenure on the California Arts Council. This idea deserves a book of its own.

The reason Peter Coyote's book is so timely and important is because we are about to reenter that time once again, but this time more as Hopi than as Hippie.
Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eve Galewitz on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Peter Coyote, was that incredibly cool "older brother", born just in time "to do" the sixties in all its guts and glory, that later generations would look back on with envy. Tall, dark, handsome and talented Coyote (are you really surprised that's not his real name) from out east lands smack dab in the heart of San Francisco just at the moment when the town is experiencing the labor pains that will soon give birth to hippiedom. We begin the journey of the sixties when Coyote was a twenty-something grad student sharing digs with the daughter of legendary Americana painter, Thomas Hart Benton, and continue to watch in fascination as he becomes an active participant in street theater, the Diggers (a band of revolutionary artists), the drug scene of Haight-Ashbury, radical politics, commune life and a lover to many lovely young women. Coyote and his friends drifted outside their urban existence when they took to the road like modern day gypsies in a beat up school bus carrying their caravan into the wilderness. It is there that they attempted to build a walden pond utopia in northern California; shooting and growing their own food, making their own clothes and birthing & raising the next generation, on a rustic farm. In his tell-it-like-it-was warts and all style, Coyote depicts how the unhygenic conditions they lived in lead to a bout with hepatitis and his baby daughter getting sick from eating dirt from the ground. Despite that rough road of youth, Coyote came out alive, and with his political & social beliefs mostly intact. Unlike many who never made the journey back from their drug addled and counter-culture adventures, Coyote, has made hay with the 2nd half of his life as an actor, political activist and can stake a claim to one of the most recognized voices in commercial television, audio and documentary narrations. Oh yes, and he can write.
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