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Resistance

Cover of Resistance

Resistance

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From the National Book Award-winning author of Arctic Dreams, a highly charged, stunningly original work of fiction--a passionate response to the changes shaping our country today. In nine fictional testimonies, men and women who have resisted the mainstream and who are now suddenly "parties of interest" to the government tell their stories.A young woman in Buenos Aires watches bitterly as her family dissolves in betrayal and illness, but chooses to seek a new understanding of compassion rather than revenge. A carpenter traveling in India changes his life when he explodes in an act of violence out of proportion to its cause. The beginning of the end of a man's lifelong search for coherence is sparked by a Montana grizzly. A man blinded in the war in Vietnam wrestles with the implications of his actions as a soldier--and with innocence, both lost and regained.Punctuated with haunting images by acclaimed artist Alan Magee, Resistance is powerful fiction with enormous significance for our times.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the National Book Award-winning author of Arctic Dreams, a highly charged, stunningly original work of fiction--a passionate response to the changes shaping our country today. In nine fictional testimonies, men and women who have resisted the mainstream and who are now suddenly "parties of interest" to the government tell their stories.A young woman in Buenos Aires watches bitterly as her family dissolves in betrayal and illness, but chooses to seek a new understanding of compassion rather than revenge. A carpenter traveling in India changes his life when he explodes in an act of violence out of proportion to its cause. The beginning of the end of a man's lifelong search for coherence is sparked by a Montana grizzly. A man blinded in the war in Vietnam wrestles with the implications of his actions as a soldier--and with innocence, both lost and regained.Punctuated with haunting images by acclaimed artist Alan Magee, Resistance is powerful fiction with enormous significance for our times.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    Apocalypse

    I remember the morning the letter came. I left the apartment Mary and I were renting on rue Lepic and strolled in the sunshine up to rue des Abbesses. The old sidewalks were freshly washed, the air was still cool. My regular way was to get a morning paper, a brioche, and black coffee and then sit in the little park by the Métro station and read. Sometimes I would walk up Yvonne-le-Tac to the terraced park below Sacré-Coeur instead, but that morning I had that fistful of mail.

    We took the apartment partly because it was right around the corner from the cemetery in Montmartre. Mary was writing an essay about the cemeteries of France for Harper's, a history of how they had been disrupted and desecrated by revolution, by the expansion of cities, and of course by the Church. The Cimetière de Montmartre was palpable, a reassurance to her. Many of its graves had been destroyed in 1789, the bodies treated like so much trash by those who hated royalty and aristocracy, and by the hoodlums who always attach themselves to social change. But Degas is buried there, the composer Berlioz, Nijinsky, and her favorite, Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone.

    It was not these ghosts, though, nor the untroubled allées colonnaded by plane trees, that calmed her. It was that the stillness sheltered an aggregation of mute evidence, apparent throughout the city in its small-scale neighborhoods, that our history is finally human. Regimes and ideologies-Tamerlane's Mongol empire, Caligula's Rome, Stalin's Soviet Union-whatever their horrors, whatever afflictions they deliver, pass away. What endures is simple devotion to the question of having been alive. The cemetery comforted her because it was not about death but about transcendent joie de vivre.

    One day she returned to the apartment and read me an inscription she'd copied from a gravestone. Ma gracieuse épouse . . . A husband had expressed his love and regard for his wife of fifty-one years in a few bare, unself-conscious sentences. Mary sat with the piece of paper in her hand by the open window, watching patrons in the bistro across the street talking and hailing friends passing on the sidewalk, and turned a shoulder so I could not see her crying.

    Her tears, I thought, were over a kind of loss we had talked about in recent weeks, the way the fabric of love scorches, no matter how vigilant we are. The intricate nature of the emotions men and women exchange made the two of us sense our own endangerment when we disagreed; but we had also been speaking of the ephemeral love one can feel toward a complete stranger, for the way they step off a sidewalk or a father hands his daughter her gloves at the door. Bound together in these many ways we are still swept suddenly out of each other's lives, by tides we don't recognize and tides we do. The sensation of loss, the weight of grief, the feeling of being naked to a menace are hard to separate. The fear of an outside force at work makes us reticent in love, and suspicious. We identify enemies.

    The instruments of discord show up daily in our lives, of course, demanding our attention. The unscrupulous peer, the woman on the make, the purblind enforcer, the self-anointed official and his cronies, people with a craving for confrontation. We are foolish to give any of them what they ask for, and we betray ourselves and anyone toward whom we have ever felt tender by not sending such people immediately on their way.

    The first two pieces of mail I opened that morning were letters from museums, one in Rouen, the other in Orléans. At the time, I was trying to assemble work by European artists which had been shaped by...

About the Author-
  • Barry Lopez is the author of eight previous works of fiction and six works of nonfiction. His stories and essays appear regularly in Harper's, The Paris Review, Orion, and the Georgia Review. In addition to the National Book Award, he is the recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science foundations. He lives in western Oregon.

    Alan Magee is an artist of international repute whose works reside in many public collections, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Portrait Gallery. He is represented by Forum Gallery in New York and Los Angeles.

Reviews-
  • St. Petersburg Times

    "Lopez's elegantly distilled tales are striking in their psychological intensity and moral questioning, disarming in their flights of imagination. . . . They shimmer with flashes of wit and beauty, and the radiance of love." --Chicago Tribune "With somber grace, Lopez parses the facile bumper-sticker slogan 'the personal is political,' and discovers in it the potential of a host of private radicalizing experiences. . . . . . . .these small narratives are intimate and mysterious." --The New York Times Book Review"Lopez has ventured out into territory quite risky and raised important questions. . . that few other fiction writers have made stick." --San Francisco Chronicle "A poetic testament to the power of the imagination to prevail over the coercion of repressive authority. . . . Remarkable, beautifully conceived and deeply moving." --Seattle Times"Diamond-sharp . . . sumptuously descriptive . . . Lopez gives us a glimpse of how the sparks fly when individual will digs in against culture's monolith." --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"Powerfully insightful . . . If you're looking for a refreshing switch from silliness, you need look no further than Lopez." --Seattle Post-Intelligencer"9/11 was the day that changed the world forever [and] in his latest collection of short fiction, Barry Lopez addresses the premonitory tremors and staggering aftershocks of that utterly changed world. . . . Eloquent defenses of the natural world, of indigenous peoples, of moderation, of life lived outside the mainstream . . . Lopez's writing is luminous, almost shamanic, with metaphors and poetic rhythms pulsing from every page." --L.A. Weekly"A cunning work of fiction likely to provoke anyone with hope of the future to reassess their current strategies for happiness. . . . Through these mesmerizing stories, Lopez challenges us all to pay attention to how well our lives express our deepest values." --Rocky Mountain News"A manifesto for the 21st century . . . Crammed with action, heartbreak, exotic locales and dangerous ideas . . . potent medicine for readers--especially American readers--exhausted by contemporary events and close to surrender." --Santa Cruz Sentinel "Barry Lopez is a writer of alchemical powers who transforms tyranny with a brilliance of language into brave acts of conscience and consequence." --Terry Tempest Williams"Barry Lopez is a rarity--a writer of unembarrassed seriousness. Resistance, his sequence of depositions from nine troubled travellers, is a work of luminous gravity. It sets the oldest wisdoms of myth and landscape against the newest conventions of the West in narratives which are daring, sensuous, beautiful and important." --Jim Crace"A dynamic and remarkable meditation on engagement. . . . Written against the paranoia that accompanies terrorism and its mirror image, the Patriot Act, Resistance is subtle and persuasive protest literature. . . . Resistance makes explicit the connection between art and politics, suggesting it's high time they work together again."

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