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Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart

Cover of Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart

Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart

A Novel
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The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar now gives us a beautiful new novel that is at once a deeply moving personal story and a powerful spiritual journey.

In Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart, Alice Walker has created a work that ranks among her best 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 Heart is Alice Walker’s most surprising achievement.

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar now gives us a beautiful new novel that is at once a deeply moving personal story and a powerful spiritual journey.

In Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart, Alice Walker has created a work that ranks among her best 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 Heart is Alice Walker’s most surprising achievement.

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  • From the book

    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...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Kate Nelson is in the midst of an identity crisis. At 57, she decides it's time to reinvent herself, that the time for sexuality is over. In her efforts toward self-discovery, she leaves her current relationship and sets off, first on a rafting trip down the Colorado River, and then to the Amazon rain forest. There she spends time with a healing shaman, suffering bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, hoping to emerge purified. Pulitzer Prize-winning authors can't always live up to the expectations of their fans, and, sadly, this is one of those times. The new Alice Walker novel is limp and disappointing. Alfre Woodard's performance almost makes the listener forget the self-indulgent writing and New Age banalities, but even Woodard can't make Kate's life lessons more than pedestrian. S.J.H. (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
  • The New York Times Book Review, about The Color Purple "Alice Walker is a lavishly gifted writer."
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, about The Temple of My Familiar "Amazing, overwhelming."
  • The Nation, about The Color Purple "Places Walker in the company of Faulkner."
  • Baltimore Sun, about By the Light of My Father's Smile "Hugely original...once again demonstrates Walker's gigantic talent."
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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