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Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle by Peter Coyote

1998; 367 pp. $26. Counterpoint.

Peter has recreated a tableau of some of the most Felliniesque characters ever to grace the pages of a nonfiction work. What works here is the utter lack of varnish, for this is neither a defense nor an apologia for the 1960s. It is a description of Peter's odyssey through some of the important players and communities that flared briefly and then burnt out. By pulling back the curtain on the stage, wings, and dressing room of the sixties, with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll intact, he reveals a world without a trace of glamour. This is the world that Tom Wolf and Joan Didion only glimpsed and interviewed, the one George Leonard skirted. Were flowers placed in gun barrels at the Pentagon? For sure. But guns were also placed next to people's temples and fired. It is as if an entire urban village became a nonstop Commedia Del Arte for several years, until the sheer intensity destroyed or scattered all but the hardiest. Not until the laughter died off were the bodies counted. This is not the hero's journey. Having read it, no one will pine to have been in his shoes, on his chopper, or in his body. This is the survivor's tale. Peter's opportunism is not hidden. His hustling gift of the gab got him into the worst and "best" of the sixties. He uses the same gift to take the reader back.

 

ISBN: 158243011X

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