Book Review - Sleeping Where I Fall
From Ralph Magazine (Review of Arts, Literature, Philisophy & the Humanities):
Volume XIV, Number 4 --- Mid-Fall, 1998
Those who know Coyote only as an actor will have to wait for a sequel to Sleeping Where I Fall to read about his Hollywood years. This is the story of the inception of the Diggers, the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the California Arts Council back in those heady days when we believed we could change the world.
The book is as much a history of the period as it is of Peter Coyote. The artists and the crooks, the visionaries and the politicians who stirred the stew that made the Sixties, walk and stumble and dance through it. Brautigan, Snyder, the Black Panthers, Luis Valdez, Chogyam Trungpa, Jerry Brown, Allen Ginsberg, The Hell's Angels, Stanley Mouse, The Grateful Dead, Janis, Altamont, the Haight, Lenore Kandel, Huey Newton --- here they are again. Forget the "lazy hippie" cliche. These folks were busting their butts for drugs or fame or a better world, or maybe just a place to sack out or a bite to eat.
For all their differences, the forces that added up to the Sixties shared a distaste for the prevailing culture. The irony that only the comfortable have the luxury of such introspection does not negate the thrilling energy of the time and the powerful civil rights, ecology, feminist and anti-war movements whose seeds were planted then and whose results changed us all. The issues of individual and society, anarchy and law, are the subtext here.
The Sixties have been the subject for extravagant praise and extravagant blame. The best summation I've heard came from a young woman born and raised at the Red Rock Commune in Southern Colorado.
It's been an evolution more than a revolution. In the end, we all go back to the cities and bring our kooky upbringing with us and affect the mainstream or become affected by it. People have been deciding to live different from the mainstream throughout history.
Sometimes vain, sometimes silly, incredibly naive and vastly experienced, Coyote's knack for administration and true heart carried him through a period that destroyed many of his friends. Those of you, more numerous in Europe than the U.S., who follow Coyote's acting career and perceive a certain depth in his roles will discover the source. Or you may find Sleeping an intriguing history of an important period. It is the answer to the rhetorical questions he asks in the foreword: What do you do when the culture itself is the enemy?