A Sense of Direction

A Sense of Direction

Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful

Book - 2012
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       In medieval times, a pilgrimage gave the average Joe his only break from the daily grind. For Gideon Lewis-Kraus, it promises a different kind of escape. Determined to avoid the kind of constraint that kept his father, a gay rabbi, closeted until midlife, he has moved to anything-goes Berlin. But the surfeit of freedom there has begun to paralyze him, and when a friend extends a drunken invitation to join him on an ancient pilgrimage route across Spain, he grabs his sneakers, glad of the chance to be committed to something and someone. 
       Irreverent, moving, hilarious, and thought-provoking, A Sense of Direction is Lewis-Kraus's dazzling riff on the perpetual war between discipline and desire, and its attendant casualties. Across three pilgrimages and many hundreds of miles - the thousand-year-old Camino de Santiago, a solo circuit of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku, and, together with his father and brother, an annual mass migration to the tomb of a famous Hasidic mystic in the Ukraine - he completes an idiosyncratic odyssey to the heart of a family mystery and a human dilemma: How do we come to terms with what has been and what is - and find a way forward, with purpose?
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2012.
ISBN: 9781594487255
Characteristics: 344 p. : maps ; 24 cm.


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Dec 16, 2017

I understand the writing trope of physical journey as metaphor for spiritual journey. The problem is that the author's starting point is so alien and his character so unlikable. It is very difficult to see him as anything other than a smirking twenty-something, partying in Berlin who has the privilege to sell what amounts to travel journal/therapy session about his issues surrounding his father.
If you want a Camino story, read Happe Kirkeling's I'm Off Then.
If you want a Shikoku story, read Paul Barach's Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains.
If you want to process issues around your father, see a professional counselor, and please don't inflict in on the rest of us.

Jun 23, 2016

A bit lost in the world of partying and family trama, Gideon undertakes 3 religious pilgrimages for non-religious reasons. Funny, silly, serious, and very entertaining. I enjoyed the first two pilgrimages the most. It will make you want to go walk a long distance for no specific reason.

Aug 15, 2012

a young man in search of answers takes the long road through pilgrimages to Santiago di Compostella, on Shikoku in Japan, and at Uman in Ukraine, those very prepositions, "to", "on", "at", indicating already different motivational positions inherent in the walks, from there it is that particular pilgrim's story of those journeys, but the pilgrim this time is a poet, in all his metaphors and allegories, cadences, colours and textures, and turns this existential quest into something profoundly beautiful and inspiring


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