Introduction to Chapter 4 of Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda, by Amy Wallace

In 1971, my father, author Irving Wallace, insisted I meet his new-found friend Carlos Castaneda. A dinner party was arranged especially for the occasion. After this first delightful meeting, Carlos and I remained in sporadic touch -- with Florinda and Taisha -- for 20 years.

In 1991, a year after my father's death, I was living in Berkeley, and saw a poster advertising Florinda Donner reading from her new book, Being-In-Dreaming. I attended, and we had an emotional reunion. She said, "Carlos will be so glad I found you!" We began to correspond and speak regularly on the phone.

Excerpt from Chapter 4, Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda


A week later I had an annoyance in my house. Bats lived in the rafters of my woodsy palace, and now and then got inside. My cats chased them feverishly, occasionally devouring them. It is very difficult to remove a bat, and I no longer had a handy husband to do bat-catching. I called the city Health Department, and they dispatched their bat man.

In the midst of this commotion the phone rang. It was Florinda.

In hushed, urgent tones she said, "Carlos wants to speak to you."

"Oh, great! Yes."

Carlos was on the phone.

"Hola, Amy, Iím so sorry about your daddy! Flo just told me that he died a year ago -- I didnít know, I was in Timbuktu. Ay! How are you?"

"Fine. Um . . . excuse me, at the moment thereís a bat in the house and --"

"Do you want me to call you back?"

Alarm bells went off in my head. I knew if I got off the phone now he would never call back.

"No, no." The doorbell rang. It was the bat-catcher, a man with a net and a jar. I waved him in.

"Guide the bat out, Amy," said Carlos, as if imparting a military secret. Guide it out."

I laughed. "Youíre Carlos Castaneda," I said, "you guide it out!"

While the bat was being dispatched, Carlos grew even more intense.

"Amy, its incredible that Flo found you when she did. Iíve been trying to reach you! What I have to tell you will sound ridiculous, but try to suspend your normal judgment, and please hear me out. Please listen. This is of the utmost importance. You, only you, have the intelligence to grasp the metaphor. The rest of them . . ." he made a contemptuous noise to encompass his small group of disciples (I had learned from Florinda that he had perhaps a dozen apprentices in Los Angeles) or perhaps the whole of humanity ? "they are not capable. They donít understand that we are like chickens, trapped in a coop, and something alien is eating us . . . yes, weíre FOOD! Why not? Suspend your judgment. This is a predatorial universe, and we are being eaten. Are you listening?"


"Sorcerers?have two sayings. One concerns an academic who went into the Amazon to Ďobserve the natives??when they tried to eat him, he wrote, ĎFor a moment, anthropology was forgotten!?/p>

"Amy, something is eating us, so Iím telling you -- forget anthropology!

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"The other saying I took from a headline in Esquire, a story about Lee Marvin. The title was, ĎLee Marvin is Scared!?Whenever I enter other worlds, bona fide other worlds, believe me, chica, Lee Marvin is scared! Are you still there?"


"A month ago I was in dreaming when I encountered Irving. He was trapped ?in some kind of crawling ivy, in brambles, like a prison. I approached him, trying to free him. He pushed me away. ĎNo! No! Donít come any closer, Just take care of my daughter. Promise me. Take care of my Amy. Sheís in trouble!?quot;

"Carlos, what does that mean? What kind of trouble?"

"I donít know."

"You donít know? Well, what about my brother? Is he in trouble? Did my dad mention him?"

"No, no, just you. And now his ghost is haunting their house, where your mother lives."

"His ghost?" The bat-catcher was at the door of my study. He triumphantly displayed a flailing bat in a jar. I smiled and waved my thanks.

"Well, what should we do?"

"I donít know. Maybe we should go to the house and try to get rid of the ghost."

At first I felt skeptical, but my fear that my father was suffering overcame my doubts.

"Okay, okay," I said. "When my motherís not home. Iíll be in L.A. in two weeks."

"Ah! Wonderful! Weíll meet then. Call Flo when you arrive. Excellent. Adios. And Amy ?one more thing. LISTEN. Listen carefully. I said it once, I will repeat it. You, Amy Wallace, only you, have the intelligence to understand the metaphor. You are the only one. Never forget what I just told you. Everything depends on it. Goodbye."

I wondered what on earth he could be talking about. Were all his tales a metaphor?


Irving Wallace was talking to Carlos Castaneda from beyond the grave. And I was in some kind of awful trouble. I tried to stay skeptical, but it didnít work ?Lee Marvin was scared.

Excerpt from Chapter 12