Picks and Pans Review: Wild Man

updated 04/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Tobias Schneebaum

As a child, Schneebaum was fascinated by a "wild man" in a cage at Coney Island and began a lifetime (he's 58) search. He wanted to discover the basic human being, to see if he were alternately as gentle and dangerous as young Tobias imagined that creature in the cage to be. In the process Schneebaum, a New York painter and an amateur anthropologist, journeyed to remote corners of South America, India, Bali, Borneo, Ethiopia and the Sahara. In each place he ate the natives' diet, slept with them and tried to surrender himself to their ways. This, then, is a book about life's mysteries—sex, religion, violence, cannibalism and death—as well as obsession. The writing is exhilarating and full of surprises, one of which is the nature of the wild man Schneebaum finally finds. Not recommended for the squeamish. (Viking, $12.95)

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