Diamond Sutra

Jeff Zaleski

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Colin Hester

Counterpoint: Washington, DC, 1997

338 pp., $25.00 (hardcover)



 


Colin Hester is "a former Zen student," according to the dust jacket copy of Diamond Sutra, his first novel. Judging by the immediacy of his prose, which snares everyday reality and pins it to the page, he has learned at least some of his Zen Buddhist lessons well. His story of a man propelled by the acknowledgment of death into a desperate search for meaning runs riot with compelling observations—seeming sprouts of mindfulness—that are keen and fresh:

 "The zendo was in the rectangular front room. It had hardwood floors smooth as ivory. Along each side wall a single round cushion—a thick brown disk—was tilted up by a small pillow wedged under its back half .... The light was absent here and at the far end wall Tsuruoka plucked from a tall dark vase a long wooden match and, striking it, lit a candle. On the shelf beside it was revealed a Buddha that seemed hewn from a block of frozen sea."

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