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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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It would not be quite accurate to say that the material in Illusions is shopworn, but it is becoming common currency in the reading offered to American mass audiences: enlightenment, miracles, reincarnation, out-of-body experiences….

There is nothing particularly wrong with [Bach's] anecdotal enlightenment, except that there is nothing particularly right about it either. It leaves the recipient where he was before the process began, except that he may have a dim recognition of the existence of other places. The problem, like the advantage, is that it is too easy; Lao Tzu might have said: "The Tao that is facile is not the true Tao."…

Perhaps the ultimate enlightenment—nirvana—comes when you perceive that the self, too, is an illusion, a game, or perhaps merely a temporary ripple on the surface of the continuum. Bach gives no evidence that he has any idea of this level of enlightenment; his book is riddled with the illusion (or the reality; it's all the same) of self. The book is clearly the product of Richard Bach, avid pilot of small aircraft, author of a number of books about flying and of one book—Jonathan Livingston Seagull—that captured the popular imagination in a wholly improbable way and dominated the cash registers for an interminable period five years ago. This is, of course, a relatively hard self to escape from and the need for such an escape is probably not evident to its proprietor. So be it; writing best-sellers may be a better game than achieving ultimate oneness with the All.

Illusions has certainly one of the requirements for a bestseller in the field of pop mysticism; that easiness which is both its charm and its danger. Bach climbs the foothills of a Himalayan range, and at the end of this not uninteresting book one feels that he has uttered the first "gu" of guru-hood.

Joseph McLellan, "A Wing and a Prayer," in Book World—The Washington Post (© 1977, The Washington Post), April 24, 1977, p. E5.