Where the Bird Sings Best

Restless Books
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The magnum opus from Alejandro Jodorowsky—director of The Holy Mountain, star of Jodorowsky’s Dune, spiritual guru behind Psychomagic and The Way of Tarot, innovator behind classic comics The Incal and Metabarons, and legend of Latin American literature.

There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the same breath as those of Gabriel García Márquez—have remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Until now.

Where the Bird Sings Best tells the fantastic story of the Jodorowskys’ emigration from Ukraine to Chile amidst the political and cultural upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jodorowsky’s book transforms family history into heroic legend: incestuous beekeepers hide their crime with a living cloak of bees, a czar fakes his own death to live as a hermit amongst the animals, a devout grandfather confides only in the ghost of a wise rabbi, a transgender ballerina with a voracious sexual appetite holds a would-be saint in thrall. Kaleidoscopic, exhilarating, and erotic, Where the Bird Sings Best expands the classic immigration story to mythic proportions.

“This epic family saga, reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in structure and breadth, reads at a breakneck pace. Though ostensibly a novelization of the author's own family history, it is a raucous carnival of the surreal, mystical, and grotesque.”
—Publishers Weekly

"A man whose life has been defined by cosmic ambitions."
The New York Times Magazine

"A great eccentric original....A legendary man of many trades.”
—Roger Ebert

For more information on Alejandro Jodorowsky, please visit www.restlessbooks.com/alejandro-jodorowsky
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Restless Books
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Published on
Sep 2, 2014
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Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Fiction / Cultural Heritage
Fiction / Family Life
Fiction / Hispanic & Latino
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A moving personal memoir of Mississippi in the 1920s and the bitter harvest of racial repression. As the story opens, six-year-old Buster Briggs boards a Pullman car headed south over the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and we embark with him on what will become his journey from childhood into adolescence. Bus Briggs is a white boy from Indiana who spends his summers and Christmases at his grandparents' Mississippi homeplace -- Riverside.

Travel with him on this journey of discovery. Join Bus and his cousins as they string popcorn and chinaberries for the yule tree, savor ice cream made from rare Mississippi snow, eat cornbread crumbled in buttermilk, enjoy all-day suckers and dill pickles at the general store. Meet the extended family that lives at Riverside -- Buster's grandparents Mammy and Pappy, his aunt Allie and uncle Cally, and his cousins -- as well as their black neighbor Mattie Riley and her son Leroy.

At the heart of this story lies Buster's strong and sustaining friendship with Leroy. From his Pullman window, Buster first sees Leroy sitting on a stile near Riverside waving at the passing train. Leroy soon becomes Buster's fellow explorer, fishing instructor, and best friend. Before Leroy waves goodbye to Buster's departing train for the last time, an unbreakable bond is formed with the gift of a pocketknife -- and what happens because of that gift. Even so, the racial prejudices of the time dictate that the paths of their lives diverge.

Wallace Briggs set out to write a memoir of his family and of his own youth, but he has shaped a story that is far more than a personal recollection. Its themes are among the most powerful in literature -- love and death, family dynamics, the innocence and selfishness of childhood, the struggle with cultural mores. What Briggs has produced is a work of great power and many pleasures, as finely constructed as a novel or stage play. His prose is crisp, cool, and sweet, like a slice of the watermelon chilling in the artesian well-water at Riverside.

A darkly funny, surreal novel set in Chile and Peru, Albina and the Dog Men is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s sprawling modern myth in which sexual desire appears as a dangerous and generative force that mutates and transforms, unraveling identities and rending the social fabric of a small town. Written with the cinematic flair he brought to his cult 1970s films El Topo and Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky turns the classic stranger-comes-to-town narrative on its head. When two women, an amnesiac albino giantess and a woman called The Crab, arrive in this South American desert town, their otherworldly allure and unfettered sensuality turn men into wild animals. A modern day Kafka story on hallucinogens, with strong doses of mysticism and horror, Albina and the Dog Men exudes dark magical realism that throws into question the nature of what it is to be human.

“Jodorowsky uses his fertile imagination to present a mixed bag of historical and imaginary characters, such as the Inca King, Atahualpa, and a cast of half-humans and half-beasts that possess magical powers...Strongly recommended.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Alejandro Jodorowsky has published Albina and the Dog Men... [which has] the aesthetic he made a show of in Where the Bird Sings Best: extreme magical realism to the limits of sexuality and spirituality... Jodorowsky proposes a search for the philosophy of sex through a literature that aims more for healing than for aesthetics.”

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a Chilean-French filmmaker, playwright, actor, author, musician, and spiritual guru, best known for his avant-garde films Fando and Lis (1968), El Topo (1970), The Holy Mountain (1973), and Santa Sangre (1989).

A circus clown and a puppeteer in his youth, Jodorowsky left for Paris to study mime with Marcel Marceau. He befriended the surrealists Roland Topor and Fernando Arrabal, and in 1962 created the "Panic Movement" in homage to the mythical god Pan. He became a specialist in the art of the Tarot and prolific author of novels, poetry, works on the Tarot and “psychomagic” healing, and over thirty successful comic books with such highly regarded artists as Moebius and Bess.
 From Alejandro Jodorowsky—legendary director of The Holy Mountain, spiritual guru behind Psychomagic and The Way of Tarot, and author of Where the Bird Sings Best—comes another autobiographical tour-de-force: a mythopoetic portrait of the artist as a young man in the sociopolitical maelstrom of 1930s Chile.

In Where the Bird Sings Best —Alejandro Jodorowsky’s visionary autobiographical novel that NPR compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude and called “a genius’s surreal vision brought to life”—we followed Jodorowsky’s predecessors as they came to Chile, fleeing pogroms in Ukraine. Now, in The Son of Black Thursday, Jodorowsky himself takes the stage alongside the unforgettable cast of his early years as they confront the horrors of indentured servitude in American-backed copper mines and the brutal oppression of a corrupt government.

Alongside the young dreamer Alejandro, we follow his father, Jaime, who’s obsessed with assassinating the dictator whom he ends up serving; his mother, Sara Felicidad, a spiritually attuned giantess who moonlights as a shopkeeper-turned-revolutionary and sings instead of speaks; Rubi, the mystic heiress to the copper mines who conceives a magnificent sacrifice to foment a workers’ revolt; and the ghost of a wise rabbi who’s been passed down as mentor from one Jodorowsky generation to the next.

In its captivating blend of wonder, horror, humor, eros, and magic, The Son of Black Thursday is another mind-expanding opus from Jodorowsky that feels both cosmically true and and urgently needed for our time.

Praise for Where the Bird Sings Best

“Where the Bird Sings Best is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s brilliant, mad, and unpredictable semi-autobiographical novel. Translated by Alfred MacAdam, this multigenerational chronicle introduces a host of memorable characters, from a dwarf prostitute and a floating ghost-Rabbi to a lion tamer who eats raw meat and teaches his beasts to jump through flaming hoops. Fantastical elements aside, Where the Bird Sings Best is a fiercely original immigration tale that culminates in the author’s birth in Chile in 1929—a complicated time in that nation’s history. Combine that with poetry, tarot, and Jewish mysticism and you have a genius’s surreal vision brought to life.”

—NPR, Best Books of 2015

“Wildly inventive.… Jodorowsky’s masterpiece swirls around the reader, lurching from violent episode to mystical encounter to cosmic sexual escapade as we follow our narrator’s grandparents’ journey from the old world to, refreshingly, South America. As the drama unfolds, the reader’s response veers from incredulity to awe, from doubt to delight. The momentum holds for the length of the novel as a cavalcade of outsized characters careen across the page in a frenzy that seems for once an adequate and just representation of the living fury that is history.… The images possess an extreme yet striking beauty.”

—Askold Melnyczuk, The Los Angeles Review of Books

“This epic family saga, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in structure and breadth, reads at a breakneck pace. Though ostensibly a novelization of the author’s own family history, it is a raucous carnival of the surreal, mystical, and grotesque.... It weaves together Jewish philosophy, passion, humor, Tarot, ballet, circuses, natural disasters, spectacular suicides, lion tamers, knife throwers, Catholic devotion, farmers, betrayals, prostitutes, leftist politics, political violence, and the ghost of a wise rabbi who follows the family from the Old World to the New.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A sweeping tale of personal, philosophical, and political struggles. It’s an immigrant’s story of Fellini-esque proportions…. For the self-proclaimed atheist mystic, the sacraments are memory, dreams, family, wisdom, the grotesque, and the reinvention of the self…. A conduit and biographical key that further reveals his mesmerizing process of imaginative self-fashioning.”

—Alison Nastasi, Flavorwire

“The legendary filmmaker has taken his lineage for inspiration in this twisted meditation on existentialism flavored with Jewish mysticism, incest, and some honey for good measure. This supposed biography works more as a jumping off place for a truly wild literary ride. Graphic, ambitious, magical, demented—Jodorowsky’s visual virtuosity showcases a whirlwind of occultism, cultism, sex, and death across time and space. Truly striking, psychedelic, and one of the more surreal books I have read in a while. But what more could you expect from the man who adapted Frank Herbert’s Dune into a 14-hour film and created his own tarot?”

—Ashanti White-Wallace, WORD Bookstore (Jersey City, NJ)

A workbook for using symbolic acts to heal the unconscious mind

• Provides several hundred successful psychomagic solutions for a wide range of specific psychological, sexual, emotional, and physical problems, from stuttering, eczema, and fears to repressed rage and hereditary illnesses

• Details how practitioners can develop unique psychomagic solutions for their patients

• Explains how psychomagic bypasses the rational mind to work directly with the unconscious for quicker and more enduring change

Traditional psychotherapy seeks to unburden the unconscious mind purely through talk and discussion. Psychomagic recognizes that it is difficult to reach the unconscious with rational thought. We should instead speak directly to the unconscious in its own language, that of dreams, poetry, and symbolic acts. By interacting on this deeper level, we can initiate quicker and more enduring change to resolve repressed childhood trauma, express buried emotions, and overcome deep-seated intimacy issues. Through the lens of psychomagic, illness can be seen as the physical dream of the unconscious, revealing unresolved issues, some passed from generation to generation.

In this workbook of psychomagical spells, legendary filmmaker and creator of psychomagic Alejandro Jodorowsky provides several hundred successful psychomagic solutions for a wide range of psychological, sexual, emotional, and physical problems from stuttering, eczema, and fear of failure to repressed rage, hereditary illnesses, and domineering parents. Each solution takes the same elements associated with a negative emotional charge and recasts them into a series of theatrical symbolic actions that enable one to pay the psychological debts hindering their lives. Explaining the shamanic techniques at the foundation of psychomagic, the author offers methods for aspiring practitioners to develop solutions for their own unique patients.

Jodorowsky explains how the surreal acts of psychomagic are intended to break apart the dysfunctional persona with whom the patient identifies in order to connect with a deeper, more authentic self. As he says in the book, “Health only finds itself in the authentic. There is no beauty without authenticity.”
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