This is a book that I have really come to love, for a bunch of reasons. The author is articulate and intelligent. His writing is very much “present” and “in the moment”. He is a Canadian. He is a writer steeping in philosophy, and continually learning and growing. He comes from Alberta, which is where I grew up. He traveled around Shikoku at a time I didn’t even know he was in the area. He could have walked right by my house.
And then there is this book. Compared to a lot of traveler accounts of “the road not taken” he stands head and shoulders above most. But as you read this book it is important that you are reading more about the pilgrim’s experience than temple information. Most certainly, there is a LOT of great background and snippets of culture, language, Buddhism, folklore, and personalities throughout, but they are all intrinsically linked to the immediate experience of Sibley. This certainly does not take anything away from the book. In fact, it serves to make the reading more intimate and intense. This is a book that inspires and touches, rather than lecture and expound.
There may be critics who claim that the book is light on data and information about the temples. This is not a guide book. This is Robert’s book, and his story. And he tells it well.
Highly recommended. I loved it. And he made me laugh out loud several times.
He also surprised me with a few moments that were particularly touching. And the end was so jarring I just dropped the book on my desk as I was reading it.
This read is something which is beyond most books on the “ohenro experience”. Deeply moving and an incredible recollection of an experience which seemed to connect with the right person at the right time. When you read this book you will know more what that last sentence means. But, do read this book.
Thank you, Robert! When you come again, please drop me a line. Dinner and beers are my settai waiting for you here in Kagawa!
Robert Sibley has written a few other books as well, including one on the Camino. Please check out his site: http://www.rumourofgod.com/index.html