It sometimes happens that the total novice, unfettered by secondhand knowledge and borrowed expertise, is able to experience phenomena and report back to the rest of us in a manner that lends credence. We believe his story and take his acquired wisdom on faith. So, when an otherwise unassuming, middle-class, successful black man – who, by the way, has never dabbled in the phenomenon of mind-travel through any means whatsoever – buys a ticket and leaves his life and family behind for an adventure in being, risking his professional reputation and his very sanity in the bargain, we might be well-advised to consider his testimony.
Sol on Ice is an account of one man’s search for some basic truth to his life: a search that he pursued by means of the shaman’s medicine ayahuasca, a potent hallucinogen that one can’t procure through one’s local drug-of-choice dealer, though it is a classified as a “controlled substance” along with marijuana, LSD and other hallucinogens. Even if it were legally procurable here, there’s a dearth of shamans around who could administer the powerful plant concoction. Seekers of the medicine’s wisdom are obliged to travel to Peru or Brazil, where the shamans live and practice, because ayahuasca is not something that one ingests for recreational purposes. The attendant shaman acts as a guide and regulator of the drug’s activities on the mind, singing an icaro to engage the traveler’s consciousness and show him what he needs to see.
When Titan Raines read about the wonders of ayahuasca as a healing medicine and visionary substance, he was intrigued by the path of a whole generation of Westerners, like Terrance McKenna and Daniel Pinchbeck, who had pioneered travel into South American rain forests where the plants and curanderos (healers) could be found. Unlike these seekers, many of whom have spent their lives pursuing such esoteric agendas, Raines wasn’t interested in developing an entirely alternate version of reality for himself. He sought answers to the very personal predicament in which he found himself as an African American who had “escaped” from the poverty of his Southern roots and “made it” in the very white world of academia.
It’s a path that he neither promotes nor condones, given the controversy over consuming hallucinogens of any kind in our society. Yet his resulting sense of self and a renewed peace with his life is inspiring. He writes, “…my race was the grounds to examine my ignorance and dark side, to which I had access…thanks to ayahuasca. Indeed, the lesson was a call for sanity, self-love and indiscriminate acceptance of and compassion toward others.”
The lesson came through nine days and five “ceremonies” of ayahuasca consumption, through the physical discomfort and purging brought on in each ceremony, through giving up all hopes of understanding and giving in to the visions that he was shown. Raines returned to tell the tale, and will be at Barnes & Noble in Kingston on Thursday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. to talk about his adventure and sign copies of his book, Sol on Ice.
Also at Barnes & Noble in Kingston:
Tuesday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m. – Meet Richard Minsky, founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City (1974). Known for his conceptual approach to the book as an art object, he presents The Book Art of Richard Minsky, an artist’s book with autobiographical introduction and descriptive texts about each work.
Saturday, November 26 at 2 p.m. – Join William B. Rhoads as he shares his latest book, Ulster County, New York: The Architectural History & Guide, featuring 325 sites throughout all Ulster County townships and including 340 illustrations.
At Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie:
Thursday, November 17 at 7 p.m. – Sportswriter Rich Thomaselli will be signing copies of his latest book I Love Michigan/I Hate Ohio State, a look inside college football’s most celebrated rivalry.
At bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy in Rhinebeck:
Saturday, November 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. – Celebrate the launch of Brilliant: White in Design by noted design editor, writer and local High Falls resident Linda O’Keefe. In more than 250 photographs, a broad spectrum of works done in white are featured, by designers and artists from around the world, such as Jonathan Adler, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy, Andy Goldsworthy, Kelly Hoppen, Hugh Newell Jacobsen, Richard Meier, Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Andrée Putman, Robert Ryman, Philippe Starck, Kelly Wearstler and Vicente Wolf. Chocolate treats (including Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Bryan Graham’s Fruition Chocolate) and other delectables offered by Ann Marie’s Moveable Feast will be served.
At the Golden Notebook in Woodstock:
Saturday, November 4 at 8 p.m. at Vivo Gallery – Serious adult “cupcakes” will be featured by Janice Kollar, contributor to The Butch Bakery Cookbook (David Arrick).
Thursday, November 10 at 7 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center – Meet 2010 National Book Award-winner (for Lord of Misrule) Jaimy Gordon, who will present her latest novel Bogeywoman.
Saturday, November 12 at 4 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center – Author David Hall will read from and sign Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.
Sunday, November 13 at 4 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center – Kevin Avery presents his anthology/biography Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson.
Thursday, November 17 at 7 p.m. at Woodstock Day School – The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy is Priscilla Gilman’s heartbreaking, inspiring story of her experience of a son with autism-spectrum symptoms. Don’t miss meeting and talking with this author.
At Inquiring Mind in Saugerties:
Sunday, November 6 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. – Come to a doubleheader author event with Susannah Appelbaum of Poisons of Caux: The Shepherd of Weeds fame and Nova Ren Suma, whose Imaginary Girls gives Young Adult readers plenty to think about. Both are perfect for the creepy season at hand.
Sunday, November 13 at 3 p.m. – Steamboats on the Hudson River (Images of America Series) author Bill Ewen will present a slideshow of steamboats in the shop.
Sunday, November 27 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. – Local author Helen Benedict will read from her new book Sand Queen.
At Merritt Books:
Saturday, October 29 at 4 p.m. – Eric Schmitt of The New York Times discusses his findings shared in Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda, co-authored with Thim Shanker.
Saturday, November 5 at 4 p.m. – In The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov: A Novel, Paul Russell recreates a fictional account of the extraordinary life of the gay brother of Vladimir Nabokov, Sergey, and the rich and changing world in which he, his family and friends lived, from wealth and position in pre-revolutionary Russia to the halls of Cambridge University and the Parisian salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
At Millbrook Vineyards & Winery:
Saturday, November 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. – Come to “Sip & Sign,” an extraordinarily rare gathering that will delight book-lovers and wine-lovers alike, with treats from La Puerta Azul, the Pampered Cow and the Red Barn Bakery to accompany the fine wines of Millbrook Vineyards. Meet and greet 15 local authors: William Alexander (52 Loaves, The $64 Tomato), Robert Sabuda (pop-up books: The 12 Days of Christmas, The Night before Christmas, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Brother Victor Antoine (From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook, Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, This Good Food), Da Chen (Sounds of the River, Brothers, Sword), Hudson Talbott (River of Dreams, United Tweets of America), Shari Aber (Kayaking the Hudson), Liza Donnelly (When Do They Serve the Wine? The Folly, Flexibility and Fun of Being a Woman, Sex & Sensibility, Funny Ladies), Hardie Truesdale (Hudson River Towns, Hudson River Journey), Scott Ian Barry (Castles of New York, Wolf Empire: An Intimate Portrait of a Species), Nina Shengold and Jennifer May (River of Words: Hudson Valley Writers), Molly Ahearn (The Dutchess County Fair), Brigit Binns (The Cook & The Butcher: Juicy Recipes, Butchers’ Wisdom & Tips), Joanne Lessner (Pandora’s Bottle), Joanne Michaels (Let’s Take the Kids, Hudson Valley Explorers’ Guide).
At Oblong Books:
Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. – Meet the Fabulous Beekman Boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, who will present their new cookbook The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook. RSVP required: [email protected]
Sunday, November 6 at 4 p.m. – Caldecott Honor illustrator Jon J. Muth reads from and signs copies of his newest picture book Blowin’ in the Wind, based on the Bob Dylan song. RSVP required: [email protected]
Sunday, November 13 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market – Children’s book illustrator G. Brian Karas will sign his newest book Neville, written by Norton Juster of Phantom Tollbooth fame, a picture book for ages 3 to 6.
Sunday, November 13 at 4 p.m. – The Hudson Valley YA Society welcomes the “Stages on Pages Tour,” a group of authors whose books involve the performing arts. Guests will include Stasia Ward Kehoe (Audition), Gretchen McNeil (Possess), Sheela Chari (Vanished), Rosanne Parry (Second Fiddle) and Jessica Martinez (Virtuosity).
Saturday, November 19 at 7 p.m. – Come to the launch party of Red-Robed Priestess, the final book in Elizabeth Cunningham’s The Maeve Chronicles. Her book goes into publication on November 15, and she’ll also be at the Dreaming Goddess in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, November 26 at 5:30 p.m.
At Vassar Bookstore in the Villard Room:
Thursday, November 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – The Vassar Bookstore Author Series presents a Veterans’ Day Event, “Healing across the Generations: A Peace Agenda.” A campuswide and community celebration to honor veterans, the event will present a panel of authors who have written about post-traumatic stress, World War II and this region’s veterans, moderated by Vassar Psychology professor Randy Cornelius. Authors and speakers attending will be Leila Levinson, Class of ‘76 (Gated Grief, The Daughter of a Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma); Carney Rhinevault (The Homefront at Roosevelt’s Hometown: Small-Town America During World War II); Christine Vassar Tall, Class of ’47 (London War Letters); Forrest Cousins, Vassar alumnus having two Purple Hearts from World War II; and Ronald Constable, New Paltz Middle School Social Studies teacher. A healing sound exercise for the entire audience will be led by professor Laura Biagi. Attendees are invited to bring a bag lunch and visit with speakers afterwards.