Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Book: Tim Moore's Spanish Steps - One Man And His Ass On The Pilgrim Way To Santiago

At the recommendation of the Best Man and the Wife, my latest read was Tim Moore's "Spanish Steps: One Man and His Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago". This book tells the tale of the author's walk along the Way of Saint James. Wanting to experience the true Pilgrim's walk, Moore walks with a donkey.

I was interested in Moore's story since I'm planning to walk the Way of Saint James in the Saint James Holy Year of 2010 (schedule and dollars willing). The book can be divided into two intertwining threads. The first is a string of brief descriptions,usually at the beginning of the chapters, of towns, personalities, and events that illustrate the history of the Way. As I read these gems, my interest in doing the walk intensified. The second thread is an often humorous description Moore's interaction with his ass, Shinto. While I found these donkey stories funny, they got in the way of what I really wanted, a description of the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I suppose I would think differently if I was going to walk with a donkey. I'm not. I'm walking with the GodSon. He's not a donkey... nor an ass. The saving grace for these parts is that they are funny.

I am really looking forward to seeing the bridges built by the Romans and the churches built by the Knights Templar, protectors of Pilgrims. I am even more interested in the people I will meet along the way. While Moore talked about some of the people he met, I wish he would have delved a little deeper into the people. I wish he would have talked more about the challenges of walking the nearly 500 miles. It seems to me that there would be humor and interesting anecdotes in the people and the travails met along the Way. Instead we get a stubborn donkey.

The Wife was a little disappointed that the religious aspects of the pilgrimage is not explored more. Moore is not very religious. This didn't bother me too much. It's interesting to find out that many of the walkers were hoping to find truth ... to change their lives ... just to find out that, once the pilgrimage is complete, they were the same person they were at the beginning of the camino. It reminds me a little of how I felt after my 1995 roadtrip. A little let down. A little disappointed. The fact is, the change often comes after the ordeal, not during. It is how we see our 'normal' lives after we have pushed ourselves beyond our limits that brings about change.

Moore's writing style is both informative and humorous. Moore isn't the best humor writer that I've read but he's good enough. It could have been better but it's good enough to recommend. You can find another opinion at the Reader's Diary.

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