Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle (Paperback)
*** October 2009 Newsletter Pick ***
You'll know Peter Coyote's woody voice from countless commercials, often for nonprofits and environmental groups, or his accomplished acting in some 120 or so films. If you ever lived in the Bay Area you might know him also as a member of The Diggers or the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Lucky for us, he is also a writer. Sleeping Where I Fall charts the trajectory of a tribe of individual humans, the ideas they shared, and the communal life they created from roughly 1964 to 1980. It is beautifully written, painfully honest, and luminously revealing of the intentions, failings, strengths, and humanity of that radical wet edge of the counterculture called the Digger Family. Coyote wisely incorporates thoughtful, graceful, and probing chapters on fellow Diggers in this tribal memoir, attempting to more clearly reveal their collective culture, their creativity, their struggles, and their wild successes. Their impact on the wider culture, and influence on the counter culture, is well-known but has never been captured so clearly and so articulately. Part memoir, chronicle and cultural history, it is the most insightful, intelligent, on-the-ground transcription of the moments, events and intentions swirling through the hearts and minds of that era. Honoring their heroic, troubled, and energetic attempts to be fully human, the book is both testimony and inspiration, encouraging a compassionate, imaginative and active engagement with your life in all of its relations. For those who lived it, it will be a vivid flashback, and for those who are curious, a wondrous, literary immersion. Dont' miss it.— From John
In his energetic, funny, and intelligent memoir, Peter Coyote relives his fifteen–year ride through the heart of the counterculture—a journey that took him from the quiet rooms of privilege as the son of an East Coast stockbroker to the riotous life of political street theater and the self–imposed poverty of the West Coast communal movement known as The Diggers. With this innovative collective of artist–anarchists who had assumed as their task nothing less than the re–creation of the nation's political and social soul, Coyote and his companions soon became power players.
In prose both graphic and unsentimental, Coyote reveals the corrosive side of love that was once called "free"; the anxieties and occasional terrors of late–night, drug–fueled visits of biker gangs looking to party; and his own quest for the next high. His road through revolution brought him to adulthood and to his major role as a political strategist: from radical communard to the chairman of the California Arts Council, from a street theater apprentice to a motion–picture star.
About the Author
An ordained practitioner of Zen Buddhism and a politically engaged actor, Peter Coyote began his work in street theater and political organizing in San Francisco. In addition to acting in over 140 films, and working with directors such as Martin Ritt, Steven Spielberg and Roman Polanski, Coyote has won an Emmy for narrating the award–winning documentary "Pacific Century." He has also narrated "The West, " "The Dust Bowl," "Prohibition," and "The Roosevelts" for Ken Burns. In 1993 he was awarded a Pushcart Prize for "Carla's Story," published in Zyzzyva. He lives in Mill Valley, California.
"Sleeping Where I Fall is the eloquent record of Peter Coyote's personal journey through a fascinating period in American history. Beyond his personal story, Coyote documents that time and its participants as few others have." —San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner
"Sleeping Where I Fall chronicles with uncommon honesty a chaotic social movement that aimed to radically reform American society . . . the tales that make the final cut in Coyote's memoir are skillfully rendered, mixing hilarity and tragedy." —Los Angeles Times
"No less than the social experiments it documents, Sleeping Where I Fall is an honest contribution to the exercise in freedom that Americans call their 'lifestyle.'" —Village Voice
"Peter Coyote's shrewdly observant, cogently analytic and earthily detailed memoir of his years within the counterculture opens a door in 1998 and walks through it into the 1960s . . . Coyote reflects with maturity on the mistakes he and his peers made, but he affirms that the dream was worth having." —Washington Post