From the gaslit parlors of the Gilded Age to the opulent excess of the Roaring Twenties, hatha yoga couldn't have followed a more bizarre and sinuous path than it did in the hands of a young Iowan born as Perry Baker.
Recreating himself as Dr. Pierre Bernard, he rescued a discipline banned in Victorian India, packaged it for Americans and taught legions of followers the yoga we know and practice today.
Reviving a forgotten tale of mysticism, intrigue and the American dream, "The Great OOM" traces the practice of yoga from Bernard's moonlit "Tantrik" rituals in 1890s San Francisco to its arrival in New York City, where his teachings were adopted by the Wall Street barons and Gilded Age heiresses who would bankroll his luxurious Jazz Age ashram on the Hudson River -- the first in the nation.
"The Great OOM" is nothing less than a human saga of mysticism, pop culture, wealth and celebrity giving rise to one of America's most popular pursuits. It is the inspiring life story of the unlikeliest of gurus, a classic tale of creation and enterprise and a stunning cultural history of yoga in the West.
"The Great OOM" by Robert Love is on the Reserve Shelf at Walla Walla Public Library.
Featured books will be available for the public today. They can also be placed on hold online at wallawallapubliclibrary,org or call the library for assistance at 527-4550. Other books include:
"Kings of the Earth," by Jon Clinch
The edge of civilization is closer than we think. It's as close as a primitive farm on the margins of an upstate New York town, where the three Proctor brothers live together in a kind of crumbling stasis.
They linger like creatures from an older, wilder, and far less forgiving world -- until one of them dies in his sleep and the other two are suspected of murder. Told in a chorus of voices that span a generation, "Kings of the Earth" examines the bonds of family and blood, faith and suspicion that link not just the brothers but their entire community.
"The Elephant's Journey," by Jose Saramago
In 1551, King Joao III of Portugal decided to give Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon, along with his keeper, Subhro.
The two have been living in dismal conditions, forgotten in a corner of the palace grounds. When it occurs to the king and queen that an elephant might be an appropriate wedding gift, everyone rushes to get them ready: Subhro is given two new suits of clothes and Solomon a long overdue scrub.
Accompanied by the archduke, his new bride and the royal guard they make their way through the storied cities of northern Italy: Genoa, Piacenza, Mantua, Venice and Trent. They brave the Alps and the terrifying Isarco and Brenner passes; they sail across the Mediterranean Sea and up the Inn River. (Elephants, it turns out, are natural sailors.) At last they make their grand entry into the imperial city of Vienna.
"Where's My Wand?" by Eric Poole
From an early age, Eric Poole was obsessed with Endora of TV's "Bewitched." Just days after his family's Pontiac pulled into the driveway of the Pooles' new home in St. Louis, 8-year-old Eric has staked out the basement as his special place: a spot where he could secretly perform magical incantations, draped in a flowing white bedspread he furtively hoped his compulsive mother wouldn't miss.
From his relationship with a girl who has no arms, to his attempt to perform an exorcism on the cute boy in his Vacation Bible School, to his anxiety that his magical wish to be superior has caused the death of a family friend, Eric Poole's stories take you into the mind of someone trying to make sense of the world and his place in it.
"To Begin the World Over Again," by John C. Hulsman; "Murder in the High Himalaya," by Jonathan Green; "River World," by Philip Jose Farmer; "Death is Not an Option," by Suzanne Rivecca