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My Ishmael

by Daniel Quinn

ISBN 0553106368 / 9780553106367 / 0-553-10636-8
Publisher Bantam
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Daniel Quinn's Ishmael was the winner of the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship, a prize honoring fiction that offers creative and positive solutions to global problems.  This extraordinary novel has become an underground bestseller and a testament for a burgeoning spiritual movement.  Mr. Quinn's new novel is a companion piece--not a story that follows the first but rather a story contemporaneous with the first.  In it, the Ishmael saga takes a startling direction that is in no way prefigured in the original.


The gorilla licked his lips--nervously, it seemed to me.  "I think we can safely say that I'm not prepared to deal with the needs of a person your age.  I think that can be safely said.  Yes."

"You mean you give up.  Is that what you're telling me? You want me to go away because you give up.  Don't you think a twelve-year-old girl can have an earnest desire to save the world?"

"I don't doubt it," he said, though the words sounded like they were pretty hard to get out.

"Then why won't you talk to me? Your ad in the paper said you need a pupil.  Isn't that what it said?"

"That's what it said."

"Well, you've got one.  Here I am."


With these words we meet Julie Gerchak, one of the most engaging young heroes since Huckleberry Finn--and one of Ishmael's most challenging and rewarding disciples.  Unable to justify turning her away, Ishmael accepts the daunting task of juggling two pupils of widely differing characters--one of whom (Julie) insists on remaining unknown to the other (Alan Lomax, known to the readers of Ishmael as the narrator of that book).  Julie is unquestionably bright (quite possibly brighter than Alan), but she's also shy of his educational background by ten years!  This means Ishmael can by no means follow the same strategy with each--or expect the same outcome from each.  Alan and Julie don't just take different routes with their simian mentor, they end up in very different places.

But something else distinguishes Ishmael's relationship with Julie.  When the infrastructure of his life begins to crumble, Ishmael must choose one of his students to entrust with a great secret and a great mission.  And, surprisingly, his choice falls not on the older, more experienced student but on the younger one.  In revealing the mission and the secret entrusted to her, Julie pens a conclusion to the Ishmael saga that will raise cheers from his fans all around the world. [via]