Allan B. Chinen, M.D.,
told by Dan Keding,
Beyond the Hero:
Classic Stories of Men
in Search of Soul

(August House, 1998)

Based on the book of the same name by Dr. Allan B. Chinen, the recording of Beyond the Hero: Classic Stories of Men in Search of Soul presents five stories. Four are folk tales from around the world and one is an original story by Chinen. Each story is intended to illustrate one of the concepts set out in Chinen's book, which concerns itself with middle-aged men's search for a centered life. Storyteller Dan Keding narrates the tales in a warm, expressive style.

The first story, "The Little Peasant," is from Germany and demonstrates the concept of "shadow and trickster." The tale concerns a peasant who gains from his wits and his perceptiveness; the peasant is the trickster, unrecognized as important by the other players in the story. Rather, he has more sense than all of them put together. "Go I Know Not Wither, Bring Back I Know Not What," from Russia, concerns Fedot, a marksman who, with the help of a clever magical wife and a being called Shmat Razum, overcomes the will of a cruel monarch. This story represents the need for men to integrate both the inner feminine and deep masculine in their selves.

"The Sultan's Handkerchief" is a story from Morocco, and in it, a sultan courts and wins a strong-willed woman whose betrothal request saves his life. This tale demonstrates the concept of "men's initiation into the feminine." In "The North Wind's Gift" from Italy, a peasant comes into his own by asking restitution from the North Wind, then learning how a gift can be interpreted more than one way. This tale is representative of "men's oppression and the Wild Man." The final story, "A Tale of the Deep Masculine," is by Chinen, and it is essentially a cultural-religious history "from stone age to new age."

Keding's storytelling is captivating. He narrates in a crisp, straightforward manner, adding expression without overdoing it. The first four tales are particularly spell-binding. The last tale does not work as well, as it is more a list of events than it is a specific narrative with a plot and characters.

Taken out of the immediate context of Chinen's book with only a few lines in the notes, the stories may not seem to hold up to scrutiny as representative of the concepts Chinen describes. It is difficult to apply Chinen's concepts without understanding them more fully; in terms of his thesis, the tape serves well as a striking supplement to the book. Readers of Chinen's book will be well-served by this tape.

Happily, those listeners who enjoy good storytelling for storytelling's sake will also find appeal in Beyond the Hero.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

Buy Beyond the Hero from