Ancient Land: Sacred Whale

byTom Lowenstein. Farrar. Straus & Girux, 189 pages, $20.00.

Mr. Lowenstein, a British poet and ethnographer, has spent twenty years studying the songs, history, and beliefs of the whale hunters of Tikigaq (otherwise known as Point Hope. Alaska). Out of this research he has created a combination of expository prose, translated native poetry, and his own poetry in the Tikigaq style. His book provides a lively view of a world with unfamiliar aspects, some bloody, some endearing. The spring whale hunt, for instance, requires new clothes and gear annually, for whales are fastidious and much offended by dirt and disorder.

ā€” by Phoebe-Lou Adams