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Listen, this process called poetry is an exercise in imagining memory, and then having that memory snare and cherish imagination.

Breyten Breytenbach


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Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

A book I'm looking for

I am going to throw this out into the æther and see if any help comes my way...

When I was young, I read a book that I loved and reread several times. I have forgotten the author's name (I believe he was French) and the title. Here is all I know for sure about the book:

  • It was set in the Neolithic era. The characters were a family of cavemen who did things like discovering fire, inventing written language, etc.
  • The narrator's uncle was named Vanya.
  • On the cover of the book (a paperback) was a print of Picasso's The Minotaur.
If anyone knows the book I'm thinking of I would be greatly indebted to you for providing me with that information.

posted afternoon of November 12th, 2003: Respond
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Thursday, November 20th, 2003

The Book I was Looking for

Turns out to be The Evolution Man by Roy Lewis; Lewis is not French but English; and the first edition does indeed have "The Minotaur" on the cover. Thanks to Google and Prehistoric Fiction for their invaluable help. (See this post for context.)

Oh and, I was misled by memory -- the novel is not set in neolithic age but earlier, in the transition from holocene to pleistocene. It was originally titled, What we did to Father.

posted afternoon of November 20th, 2003: Respond
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Saturday, October 29th, 2005

I bought a used copy of The Evolution Man by Roy Lewis, through Amazon. I remember it from my childhood as being a laugh riot -- it came yesterday and I read some of it tonight, and it does not disappoint.

The idea of the book is to show some of the milestones of human evolution and social development, as seen through the eyes of a young early hominid named Ernie, his Luddite uncle and his forward-looking father. It's a little bit the same effect as Kipling's "Just-So Stories", but more clever and insightful.

posted evening of October 29th, 2005: Respond

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