Picks and Pans Review: Mutant Message Down Under

updated 10/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Mario Morgan

Once upon a time a white, middle-aged American (a former Mrs. Kansas, no less) was invited by a tribe of Native Australians to a ceremony honoring her work with urban Aborigine youth. But instead of the plaque she expected, Mario Morgan was rewarded with a four-month odyssey through the Australian Outback with a tribe of nomads she calls Real People.

Mutant Message Down Under is based on that experience. (The book was originally self-published as nonfiction, but Morgan's credibility has been challenged by critics. HarperCollins, which paid a reported $1.7 million for the rights to republish the work—now a best-seller—calls it fiction.)

For a mutant (someone who "has lost or closed off ancient remembering and universal truths"), Morgan quickly adjusts to her no-frills world. She makes remarkably little ado about trudging across the desert barefoot, sleeping on a dingo hide and dining on spiders, worms and weeds. Her purpose is to bring the Aboriginal message of Divine Oneness to the rest of us mutants before it's too late. As Morgan learns, "the importance of healing physical health must be coupled with the real healing of humans, the healing of their wounded, bleeding, diseased and injured eternal beingness."

Huh?

It would be refreshing if there were a book about personal and planetary transformation by someone who could actually write. Alas, Mutant, dripping with New Age psychospeak, isn't it. Whether the book is classified as fiction or nonfiction hardly matters. It works as neither. (HarperCollins, $18)

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