SOUTH AMERICAN ADVENTURE TRAVEL TRILOGY
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Wedding of the Waters
Those who have traveled
know that it is a constant exploration in human relations and Craig Carrozzi's
trip along the Amazon River makes the most of this exploring. The author,
a young American Peace Corps worker, spends his vacation realizing a childhood
dream by traveling through the Amazon on a lumber boat. With a keen insight
into the character of the people he encounters, Craig learns that there are
as many reasons to travel as there are travelers, from the lovelorn young
American woman, Sandra, to Fernando, a Peruvian student working his way to
Europe. During the journey, there is confrontation and confusion, euphoria
and contentment, fear and doubt, ecstatic moments of natural splendor, romance
and frustration, all packed into a ten day journey. The trip culminates when
the boat reaches the confluence of the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers, known
as the "Wedding of the Waters" in Brazil, and symbolic of the shared
adventure of our wanderers. --Great Expectations Magazine
Paperback, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2, 396 Pages, Retail Price $10.95
The Road to El Dorado
the countries of the Americas, Colombia is the land most identified with the
legend of El Dorado. This legend drove Spanish conquistadores across a hostile
land in a quixotic search for gold and other riches. The native people of
the land were murdered, raped, pillaged, and enslaved. The Road to El Dorado
is an allegory comparing the calamitous hunt for El Dorado to the modern allure
of the drug trade and its equally disastrous effects on the Colombian social
fabric. Told through the eyes and mind of a young American Peace Corps Volunteer
who works in a Colombian juvenile prison, it is a true story of fractured
idealism and Edenic knowledge. This entertaining book provides insight for
anyone seeking to understand the civil mess in Colombia and the increasing
U.S. involvement there.
Road to El Dorado" is autobiographical fiction, based on a true story,
of a Peace Corp Volunteer's time working in a Colombian juvenile prison in
the late 1970s. The theme and unifying element--El Dorado, the mythical land
of gold sought and died for by numerous conquistadors and adventurers, and
whose tradition is carried on by present day adventurers in the cocaine trade--is
that blind seeking after material wealth is an absurd path that more often
leads to catastrophe than to a better way of life. Then, as now, Colombia
was a turbulent country. Revolutionary bands, narco-terrorists, petty criminals
in the big cities, and state-of-siege powers for the police and military create
a climate of constant insecurity for both the Peace Corps Volunteers and ordinary
citizens. But Colombia is also a beautiful country--both geographically and
in the richness of its culture and traditions--and offers an array of characters
who affirm the power of the human spirit to live, love and dance under difficult
circumstances. The first Peace Corps Volunteers were known as the Children
of Kennedy. The later volunteers, in the dying days of Peace Corps Colombia,
are known by their Spanish teachers as "El Cuerpo de Paseo" (The
Vacation Corps). The protagonist, Gary Vachio, calls his Peace Corps group
"The Children of Saturday Night Live," as they work, travel, and
party from one adventure and misadventure to another. Vachio, a street-wise
individual with plenty of attitude, weathers the ups and downs of his Peace
Corps experience with cutting humor, a resilient character, and a constant
questioning and reevaluation of his own motives and values; as well as those
of Peace Corps and of his Colombian counterparts. Working in the prison, in
a small macho cowboy town, he becomes so unsettled by the ambiguities of his
position that he begins to lose faith in himself and those around him and
ponders the inconceivable.
Trade Paperback, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 , 439 Pages, Retail Price $19.95
Festival of Conception
Images of surf and sand, samba lines, bars, and the ornate crumbling colonial architecture of Brazil's Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos are backdrops for this reflection on his own life's meaning and direction by Craig Carrozzi. With companionable, street wise language, he gives us sounds, visions, and the characters that shaped his love affair with Bahian culture and his choice to plunge into the depths of the artistic life.
The narrative crystallizes a metaphor expressed in the book's title. The Festa da Conceicao (Festival of Conception) is one of Salvador's oldest religious festivals, but not its classiest. Carrozzi is warned by a rich expatriate New Yorker that this celebration attracts mostly lowlifes, that it can get very dangerous for foreigners, and that he should really skip it and wait for the truly important and grand Festa de Senhor do Bonfim. Hearing that the middle class ignores the Conceicao, he responds, youre making it sound better by the minute, and of course he goes, and we with him, through the streets of the Upper City, then down into its depths, getting lost along the way, through an encounter of frustrated love with a classy prostitute and an ugly tiff with drunk revelers which almost turns into serious violence. Through all the noise and confusion, the modern world intrudes very little. We walk almost everywhere, which helps reduce the experience to its most essential elements and enable the clear conception of his own future which the author reaches at the end of the journey. From the dancing mud will indeed grow the bright lotus.
Carrozzis fluency in Portuguese and Spanish give him an ear for a world few non-Brazilians can know close-up, as we get to banter with bartenders, street vendors, Rasta musicians, and others. We float with young hipsters on a bus trip across Bahia, and unexpectedly catch Gilberto Gil sitting in with a local band. The color and enthusiasm with which Carrozzi paints his characters, who are for the most part quite ordinary people, calls to mind, especially in its earthiness, some of Henry Millers travel writings, though it lacks Millers wild-eyed and blustery ignorance. It also occasionally recalls fellow ex-Peace Corps author Paul Therouxs stylish first-person accounts of Third World countries and their inhabitants. All in all, Festival of Conception is a great read for the vicarious traveler.
The text is complemented
by eight original illustrations by Shely Johnstone in the Brazilian block
art style. Intriguing scenes of people and places in Bahia.
Trade paperback, 6 by 9, 198 Pages, Retail Price $15.00
Craig Carrozzi has written an absorbing pierce of historical fiction, an easy page-turner of a young boy's first look at a major league baseball game. In all, the entire story encompasses a few hours and yet, it spans generations of baseball lore, urban ethnicity, the possessive instincts of fans to the home team and turf, the gaps of youth and age...in sum, the gamut of human behavior.
Here is baseball from the beginner's curiosity to the wise old observer's analysis; from the cynical newcomer to the ever loyal fan; from the player on the field to the raucous bleacher bum.
Carrozzi has taken an actual game, Giants vs. Reds, July 6, 1961, and reproduced a city's affection in neat story form. It begins on a bright San Francisco morning when two boys from a low-end district, penniless, decide to walk a few miles to Candlestick Park, sneak into a game, try to catch a batting practice ball, find themselves in box seats, join the cheers and jeers, hear the sages discuss the secrets of The Game and finally, at game's end, begin an exhilarated yet exhausted walk home.
Carrozzi has taken a fragment of time for his tale of adventure while leaving us with a sense of baseball's unending drama and a closer examination of man's psyche.
Read and enjoy. --Art
Rosenbaum, San Francisco Chronicle
Trade Paperback, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 , 176 Pages, Retail Price $8.95 OUT OF PRINT