Daniel Quinn - The Man Who Grew Young

What can you say? Quinn has done it again. If you liked Ishmael, then you will probably like this one too. They are good books for the same reasons and bad books for the same reasons too.

Some of Quinn's books have the capacity to shock some readers into a wake up call. Hopefully, that is his intent. Because if his intentions are to be balanced, fair, or scientific then, again, he has come up short. Reading The Man Who Grew Young more as fantasy or fable rather than as a true reflection of history or the future, a reader will come away with something to think about and ponder.

Quinn paints the history of the world with very black and white stripes. In this book, he writes as a neo-Luddite--technology, civilization, and the like are "bad". Nothing good appears to have come from them. A good life is one where a person's waking hours are spent hunting and gathering. I have a hard time believing that Quinn really thinks this (after all, if he did, he'd be spending his time doing so rather than spending it writing and promoting books and his website). Taken as more of a metaphor of sorts, though, it can probably cause a person who hasn't previously considered such things to notice that the benefits that we have received through things like technology and civilization have not come without costs.

The illustrations, although well done, initially reminded me of those found in tracts of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And to be perfectly honest, it seems like Quinn is developing something of a cult-like following.

There are certainly some words of wisdom and inspiration to be found in The Man Who Grew Young, but take some of the content with a grain of salt.

from the publisher:
Question: What’s going to happen when the universe winds down to the end of its string?

Answer: Like a cosmic yo-yo, it’s going to start winding its way back up the string, to its beginning—and every life that has ever been lived will be lived again: in reverse.

Through some mysterious (but perfectly natural) process, bodies come together in the earth, flesh being knitted around bones with sinews and cartilage. And when their bodies are ready, people are drawn up out of their graves to begin their sojourn through life—from old age to middle age, youth, adolescence, childhood, and infancy. Ultimately, they’re united with a mother, who takes them in and makes them part of her own substance, which, in its own time will be absorbed by yet another mother.

One of the strange benefits of living in this backward-running universe is that the concept of "death" is unknown. No one dies. Everyone is simply united with—and disappears peacefully into—his or her destined mother. It happens to everyone, and Adam Taylor expects it to happen to him. But, unaccountably, he seems to be a man without a mother—and therefore, to his own bafflement, apparently immortal. He makes friends and takes wives, and watches as they "grow" into adolescence, childhood, and infancy, leaving him behind, decade after decade, century after century, millennium after millennium.

His quest for a mother to release him from life is a magical one, carrying him into the path of seers, wizards, and sorcerers. But the master magician here is Quinn, who has conceived this dazzling light-show to reveal a mystery as true for us as for Adam Taylor: seen from either direction—from beginning to end or from end to beginning—the life of everything that lives springs from the same womb and must inevitably return to it.

This brilliant epic tale is brought to breathtaking life by Tim Eldred, Emmy-Award-winning director of Dragon Tales, a 40-episode animated series that made its debut on PBS in the fall of 1999.