Blues for Cannibals: The Notes from Underground
    • Blues for Cannibals: The Notes from Underground (2002) by Charles Bowden

Blues for Cannibals continues the quest Bowden began in Blood Orchid: to discover the headwaters of the sickness that seeps through the American soul, and to consider what it might mean to come fully alive in a time exalted consumption, global pillage, gated communities, and wholesale destruction of the environment. Down, down he leads us, in intoxicating, nearly hallucinogenic prose — past the Yaqui, the Anasazi, and other ghosts of our collective history, past the hookers, winos, and assorted have-nots outside the prosperous circle by the fire. We meet a prisoner obsessed with painting presidents, sex offenders whose deities are not as alien as we would wish, a murderer whose execution does not cure what ails us. "I wound up looking at a world where cannibalism is life," Bowden writes, "and of course, given the diet, a life without a future." He mourns a young artist who couldn't find a reason to keep living, and tends a mesquite tree that won't die. And, down among its metaphoric roots, he reacquaints us with the appetites — fierce, flawed, human — that might save us too.