Cover image for Now is the time to open your heart [a novel]
Title:
Now is the time to open your heart [a novel]
Author:
Walker, Alice, 1944-
Personal Author:
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audio, cp2004.
Physical Description:
6 audio discs (6.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
A well-published, numerous-times-divorced woman leaves her lover to embark on a personal journey that begins on the Colorado River and traverses through her past and into her future, while her lover begins his own parallel voyage.
General Note:
Unabridged.
Language:
English
Genre:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780739309636
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

The Pulitzer Prize--winning author ofThe Color Purple,Possessing the Secret of Joy,andThe Temple of My Familiarnow gives us a beautiful new novel that is at once a deeply moving personal story and a powerful spiritual journey. InNow Is the Time to Open Your Heart, Alice Walker has created a work that ranks among her ?nest achievements: the story of a woman's spiritual adventure that becomes a passage through time, a quest for self, and a collision with love. Kate has always been a wanderer. A well-published author, married many times, she has lived a life rich with explorations of the natural world and the human soul. Now, at fifty-seven, she leaves her lover, Yolo, to embark on a new excursion, one that begins on the Colorado River, proceeds through the past, and flows, inexorably, into the future. As Yolo begins his own parallel voyage, Kate encounters celibates and lovers, shamans and snakes, memories of family disaster and marital discord, and emerges at a place where nothing remains but love. Told with the accessible style and deep feeling that are its author's hallmarks,Now Is the Time to Open Your Heartis Alice Walker's most surprising achievement. From the Hardcover edition.


Summary

Having lived a life of adventure and exploration, Kate nonetheless lusts to experience the unknown and the unseen. Thus, at 57, she leaves her lover and sets out on an excursion of self-discovery. Her journey starts at the Colorado River and meanders through both time and self. Emerging at the end, Kate retains and embodies the essence of love.


Author Notes

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. Her other bestselling novels include By the Light of My Father's Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar. She is also the author of two collections of short stories, three collections of essays, five volumes of poetry, and several children's books. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. Born in Eaton, Georgia, Walker now lives in Northern California. Like so many characters in her fiction, Alice Walker was born into a family of sharecroppers in Eaton, Georgia. She began Spelman College on a scholarship and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. While still in college, Walker became active in the civil rights movement and continued her involvement after she graduated, serving as a voter registration worker in Georgia. She also worked in a Head Start program in Mississippi and was on the staff of the New York City welfare department. She has lectured and taught at several colleges and universities and currently operates a publishing house, Wild Trees Press, of which she is a co-founder.

Walker began her literary career as a poet, publishing Once: Poems in 1968. The collection reflects her experiences in the civil rights movement and her travels in Africa. Her second collection of poetry, Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973), is a celebration of the struggle against oppression and racism. In between these two collections, she published her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), the story of Ruth Copeland, a young black girl, and her grandfather, Grange, who brutalizes his own family out of the frustrations of racial prejudice and his own sense of inadequacy.

Walker's first collection of short stories, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women (1973), established her special concern for the struggles, hardships, loyalties, and triumphs of black women, a powerful force in the rest of her fiction. Meridian (1976), her second novel, is the story of Meridian Hill, a civil rights worker. In her second collection of short stories, You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down (1981), Walker again portrays black women struggling against sexual, racial, and economic oppression.

Walker's third novel, The Color Purple (1982), brought her the national recognition denied her earlier works. Through this story of the sharecropper Celie and the abuses she endures, Walker draws together the themes that have run through her earlier work into a concentrated and powerful attack on racism and sexism, and produces a triumphant celebration of the spirit and endurance of black women. The book received the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a successful film.

Walker describes her most recent novel, The Temple of My Familiar (1989) as "a romance of the last 500,000 years." The book is a blend of myth and history revolving around three marriages. As the married couples tell their stories, they explore both their origins and the inner life of modern African Americans.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kate Talkingtree, the 57-year-old writer protagonist of Walker's latest concoction, is a lifelong seeker after enlightenment in the carnal, political and religious realms. After dreaming of a dry river, she decides to take this as a spiritual clue and makes two river-centric spiritual quests. In one, she embarks on an all-female white-water rafting trip down the Colorado River, coming home to her boyfriend, Yolo, a painter, with potentially startling news. She has decided that it is time to give up her sexual life and "enter another: the life of the virgin." Yolo, a feminist-friendly guy, takes this as well as he can. Soon Kate is off on another quest, this time in the Amazon rain forest, where she hopes to heal herself through trances induced by yag? administered by an Amazonian shaman, Armando Juarez. Yag?, a hallucinogenic beverage, is also known as Grandmother to the native peoples. Indeed, it turns out that Kate's Grandmother archetype-representing the Earth, the ancestors and those violated by patriarchy and racism-has been calling out to her. Meanwhile, Yolo, on vacation in Hawaii, encounters a transsexual Polynesian shaman, or Mahu, who charges him with the mission of giving up addictive substances. A subplot involving corporations conspiring to patent yag? creates an unintended irony: isn't the mindset that exploits native wisdom for Western corporate greed similar to the mindset that exploits native rituals for the sake of Western spiritual "healing"? Luckily, followers of the goddess, and presumably Walker's readers, are not very keen on irony. Those who retain some affection for that hopelessly outdated and patriarchal trope are advised to bypass this inflated paean to the self. 100,000 first printing; 8-city author tour. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

Kate, a successful author fearful of aging and uncertain about continuing her relationship with Yolo, an artist, sets off on a journey of spiritual discovery. She has been profoundly unhappy for some time, dreaming of rivers, until she takes off for rivers--the Colorado and the Amazon. Among strangers, Kate is able to distance herself from her life and her relationship. Yolo, on his own separate journey, meets a former lover, a Hawaiian woman now overweight and weighed down with the recent loss of her son to a drug overdose and a sense that she--like her son--has lost her way. Kate finds growing intimacy among a group of disparate souls who unburden themselves of their pasts under the influence of yage, a South American medicinal herb. Kate finds that the herb allows her to reveal her innermost secrets and puts her in touch with the elders. Despite their frictions, Kate and Yolo have similar reawakenings about the land as mother, overcoming personal and ethnic oppression, and dismantling barriers between the sexes, the races, and young and old. Walker's dreamlike novel incorporates the political and spiritual consciousness and emotional style for which she is known and appreciated. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2003 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Kate, a wealthy author and self-proclaimed seeker, is dissatisfied with the state of the world, her life, and her relationship with her latest lover, Yolo. A journey both physical and spiritual takes her down the Colorado River on a raft and eventually to a shaman's retreat in the Amazon. Along the way, she samples the tragic stories of her fellow seekers and helps them along the path to healing. In the meantime, Yolo pursues his own journey, encountering indigenous Hawaiians and meeting an old lover. Walker has some interesting insights on the power of stories and the nature of the spirit, but they are buried amid improbable situations and characters who have read too many bad books on spirituality. It is difficult to take any of the characters seriously, especially Kate, who comes across as a stereotypical rich, self-indulgent New Ager bemoaning the fate of the world but showing little evidence that she is doing anything to improve it. The author's name makes this a necessary purchase for most libraries, but readers will long for the Walker of earlier days.-Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Cool Revolution kate talkingtree sat meditating in a large hall that was surrounded by redwood trees. Although the deep shade of the trees usually kept the room quite cool, today was unseasonably warm and Kate, with everybody else, was beginning to perspire. They had been meditating, on and off their cushions, for most of the morning, beginning at five-thirty when they roused themselves, at the sound of the bell, from their beds. When they broke from meditating inside, they quietly made their way outside and into the courtyard. Up and down the path that led to the front door of the hall they did a walking meditation that had been taught them by a lot of different Buddhist teachers, some from America and some from Asia. It was a slow, graceful meditation that she liked; she enjoyed the feeling of a heel touching the earth long before a toe followed it. Meditating this way made her feel almost as slow as vegetation; it went well with her new name, a name she'd taken earlier, in the spring. Ever since she was small she'd felt a wary futility about talking. At the same time she realized it was something that, in order for the world to understand itself at all, had to be done. Her old last name had been Nelson, and for a time she'd thought of calling herself Kate Nelson-Fir. She loved fir trees, especially the magnificent, towering ones that grew on the Northwest coast. When it was time for the dharma talk to begin Kate made her way to a spot close enough to see and hear the teacher very easily. He was a middle-aged man of southern European descent, with an ecru complexion and a shining bald head. His brown eyes twinkled as he talked. Every once in a while he reached up and stroked the silver earring in his left ear. Because of the earring and because he seemed spotless in his flowing robes, she mentally dubbed him Mr. Clean. She had been coming to his talks every day for more than a week, and had enjoyed them very much. Today he was talking about the misguided notion that a "hot" revolution, with guns and violence, such as the ones attempted in Africa, Cuba, and the Caribbean, could ever succeed. He seemed unaware that these revolutions had been undermined not only by their own shortcomings but also by military interference from the United States. The only revolution that could possibly succeed, he maintained, smiling, was the "cool" one introduced to the world by the Lord Buddha, twenty-five hundred years ago. Something about this statement did not sit well with Kate. She looked at him carefully. He was certainly a well-fed-looking soul, she thought. Not many meals missed by that one, except by accident. Quietly glancing down at the program on the floor beside her, she saw he had grown up in an upper-middle-class home, had had educated and cultured people as parents and as grandparents, had studied and lived in Europe as well as in the East. Was now a prominent professor at one of the country's most famous universities. Easy enough for him to dismiss the brown and black and yellow and poor white people all over the globe who worried constantly where their next meal was coming from, she thought. How they would feed, clothe, and educate their children. Who, if they did sit down to meditate, would probably be driven up again by the lash. Or by military death squads, or by hunger, or by . . . the list was long. Looking around her she noticed most of the meditators shared the teacher's somewhat smug, well-fed look. They were overwhelmingly white and middle- to upper-middle-class and had the money and leisure time to be at a retreat. In fact, she noted, she seemed to be the only person of color there. What was wrong with this picture? Her mind, which had been clear as a reflecting pool just minutes before, now became cloudy. This was exactly what meditation was meant to prevent. She took a deep breath, labeled her thoughts "thinking," as she'd been instructed to do if her mind wandered during meditation, and settled herself more firmly on her cushion. She would listen to this teacher, whom she indeed respected very much, and she would not be critical. Besides, she knew what he meant. There was a way in which all "hot" revolutions defeated themselves, because they spawned enemies. Look at those crazy ex-Cubans in Miami, for instance, who never recovered from having some of their power taken away, and the endless amount of confusion, pain, and suffering they caused. After the talk she began to think in earnest. She felt she had reached an impasse on the Buddhist road. That evening and the next day and the next she found herself unable to meditate. She kept looking out the window instead, just as she had looked out of the window of the Church of God and Christ, as a child, when she had been unable to believe human beings, simply by being born, had sinned. The redwood trees looked so restful, their long branches hanging down to the earth. Each tree created a little house, a shelter, around itself. Just right for a human or two to sit. She hadn't realized this before, how thoughtful this was. But on her very next walking meditation she slowly, slowly, made her way to the largest redwood tree and sat under it, becoming invisible to the dozens of people who continued their walking meditation and slowly walked all around her. When everybody else returned to the meditation hall, she did not. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart: A Novel by Alice Walker All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.