By Sy Montgomery
Simon & Schuster, 320 pp.
Deep in the Amazon, there swim pink dolphins, amid gray and black ones, "dazzlingly, impossibly pink." The dolphins--called boto--can, according to Brazilian folklore, turn into people. Villagers tell tales of beautiful women who come naked and glowing from the river to lure youngsters away to the Encante, "the enchanted city beneath the water."
Are the dolphins real, or are they only visions? It hardly matters, for in the Amazon, "where unforgettable tragedies collide with unquenchable desires, the most preposterous of impossibilities come true."
The presence of the impossible is the theme of Sy Montgomery's latest book, "Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest." This nature-lover's travel essay and spiritual guidebook tells the story of Montgomery's trip through the thickest part of the Brazilian rain forest in search of the pink dolphins. Along the way, she encounters tarantulas, chiggers, psychedelic drugs, and innumerable adventures. Occasionally, Montgomery's lyrical gonzo journalism verges on lurid sensationalism, as when she compares the taste of an exotic fruit to semen, or notes that her infected insect bites make her body look like it's covered with nipples. But in general, this is a luminous dream-journey, an exquisite reflection on death, nature, and enchantment.