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A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful
 
 

A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful [Kindle Edition]

Gideon Lewis-Kraus
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Review

'His ear for dialogue is sharp and funny, his observations of others are astute without being cruel, his anxieties genuinely endearing... A Sense of Direction is a brave, honest work of self-reckoning' Financial Times

'Filled with wit, insight and hilarity' Colm Tóibín, Guardian

'Captures beautifully the seductive appeal of [Berlin's] Lotus-eating demi-monde' Daily Telegraph

'Lewis-Kraus's sharp, reflexive insights on pilgrimage and its endurance among the secular, dovetail into a compelling family drama' New Statesman

'Lewis-Kraus is an author with a keen sense of authenticity... There are shades of Geoff Dyer to the author's honest-slacker pose and hints of Chuck Klosterman to his verve and wit' TLS

'A winning blend of earnestness, wit and high-octane intellect' Observer

'Beautiful, often very funny... a story that is both searching and purposeful, one that forces the reader, like the pilgrim, to value the journey as much as the destination.' New Yorker

'Charming and disarming... a wonderful exploration of the stories we tell ourselves' The New York Times Style Magazine

'If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus' Gary Shteyngart

'Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written a very honest, very smart, very moving book about being young and rootless and even wayward. With great compassion and zeal he gets at the question: why search the world to solve the riddle of your own heart?' Dave Eggers

'A young writer seeks a cure for his fecklessness by following roads very much taken in this scintillating travel memoir' Publishers Weekly

'Physically, Lewis-Kraus' feats are staggering, but more so is how fully and fluidly he recounts them, alongside meditation on his own youthful anxieties and a well-synthesized history of the act of pilgrimage' Booklist

'Nails our collective anxiety - every sentence rings true... Lewis-Kraus is a master' Daily Beast

'A deeply intelligent, often funny memoir about finding a sense of purpose through walking in the centuries-old footsteps of religious pilgrims... also a sensitive and nuanced coming-of-age memoir about fathers and sons, and about confronting the past in order to be free to move...into the future' Booklist

'Thought-provoking and engaging in the style of Bruce Chatwin or Paul Theroux, with ample sides of Thomas Menton and Augusten Burroughs' Kirkus

'This is a brilliant meditation on what the spiritual and fraternal and paternal and communal might mean to a person right now, fueled as it is by the funny, thorny, dreamy... truth-seeking voice of Gideon Lewis Kraus' Sam Lipsyte

'A thoughtful, honest meditation on religion, family and self from a secular and thoroughly contemporary pilgrim... Lewis-Kraus may well have written the perfect travel memoir' Bookseller

'A quirky, funny and ultimately moving account of a twenty-something man seeking purpose, order and acceptance... A Sense of Direction is more than a travel memoir and account of pilgrimage, it is a meditation on family, forgiveness and acceptance' --We Love This Book

Lewis-Kraus's sharp, reflexive insights on pilgrimage and its endurance among the secular, dovetail into a compelling family drama --New Statesman

Captures beautifully the seductive appeal of [Berlin's] Lotus-eating demi-monde --Telegraph

Product Description

A young secular writer's journey along ancient religious pilgrimage routes in Spain, Japan and the Ukraine leads to a surprise family reconciliation in this literary memoir

Gideon Lewis-Kraus arrived in free-spirited Berlin from San Francisco as a young writer in search of a place to enjoy life to the fullest, and to forget the pain his father, a gay rabbi, had caused his family when he came out in middle age and emotionally abandoned his sons. But Berlin offers only unfocused dissipation, frustration and anxiety; to find what he is looking for (though he's not quite sure what it is), Gideon undertakes three separate ancient pilgrimages, travelling hundreds of miles: the thousand-year old Camino de Santiago in Spain with a friend, a solo circuit of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku, and finally, with his father and brother, a migration to the tomb of a famous Hassidic mystic in the Ukraine. It is on this last pilgrimage that Gideon reconnects with his father, and discovers that the most difficult and meaningful quest of all was the journey of his heart. A beautifully written, throught-provoking, and very moving meditation on what gives our lives a sense of purpose, and how we travel between past and present in search of hope for our future.

Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written for numerous US publications, including Harper's, The Believer, The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Slate, and others. A 2007-08 Fulbright scholarship brought him to Berlin, a hotbed of contemporary restlessness where he conceived this book. He now lives in New York, but continues to find himself frequently on the road to other places.

“Beautiful, often very funny... a story that is both searching and purposeful, one that forces the reader, like the pilgrim, to value the journey as much as the destination.” New Yorker

“Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written a very honest, very smart, very moving book about being young and rootless and even wayward. With great compassion and zeal he gets at the question: why search the world to solve the riddle of your own heart?” Dave Eggers

“If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus” Gary Shteyngart


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1427 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594631492
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (13 Feb 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H6V0E3Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #182,763 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic inner and outer journey 19 May 2012
By Niki Collins-queen, Author TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Gideon Lewis-Kraus' memoir is rich in humanity, humor and a zest for life. "A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful" takes us from an anything-goes lifestyle of parties and booze in Berlin to the physical endurance and mental fortitude required to do three pilgrimages and many hundreds of miles in Spain, Japan and the Ukraine. The first was Spain's thousand-year-old Camino de Santiago with a friend, the second a solo circuit of Japan's eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the island of Shikoku and the third the annual mass migration to the tomb of a famous Hasidic mystic in the Ukraine with his father and brother.
It's also a story of pain, promise and forgiveness. Much of it Gideon's desire to avoid the kind of constraint that kept his father, a gay rabbi, closeted until midlife.
Gideon's insightful book is also thought-provoking. He saw Spain's Santiago pilgrimage as Christian as the trail is a strait line and it's about the future. The devout walk it to get-out-of-purgatory. The Buddhist trail is a circle around the Shikoku and it's about the present. The Jewish pilgrimage is a dot in the middle of the Old World and it's about the past. He said, the first was about finding a sense of direction, the second about returning to where he started and the third about knowing where he stood. He also observed how the pilgrimage helped him pay attention to the low-level distress and indignity of people he was not all that keen on. It became clear to him that forgiveness has to come first because part of that gesture is reconciling himself that there's never going to be any real, satisfying redress.
"A Sense of Direction" is not only Gideons story, but our story. It's an epic inner and outer odyssey into coming to terms with what has been, what is and how to move forward.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite an interesting voyage. 20 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading the report of pilgrimages but found the first part really boring and too long. Worth reading the whole book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not too inspiring either. 3 Aug 2014
By Phil
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A tad self indulgent really. Useful as background material for these two walks, but other than that, I wouldn't put much store by it if you want a 'spirituality' of the walk, very Generation Y in fact.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
One of the best examples of travel memoir which I have read over the last few years, Gideon Lewis-Kraus's "A Sense of Direction" is a fine literary debut that ranks alongside great travel memoirs like Susan Gilman's "Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven". Hoping to escape a most banal existence as a young American expatriate living in Berlin, Gideon teams up with a friend on a series of treks across Europe, starting with their epic journey retracing the route of an old Roman road in Spain. These are journeys not just through the physical landscapes of Europe, but also those within Gideon's soul, as he learns how to deal effectively with the yin and yang of desire and discipline. Told strictly from a first-person account in compelling, often elegant, prose, "A Sense of Direction" will be most uplifting to those interested in reading it. Its underlying message of a young man seeking to make some sense out of his life is one surely to resonate with many readers who will be enthralled with Gideon's brilliant, witty and often humorous account. Without a doubt, "A Sense of Direction" is a notable memoir worthy of the favorable praise it has earned from the likes of Gary Shteyngart, Dave Eggers and Sam Lipsyte.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sense of Direction 31 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback
Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ debut book, A Sense of Direction, is a compelling travel memoir that is full of humour, history and hope. Lewis-Kraus had moved to Berlin in the hope of both finding himself and escaping the emotional turmoil of his family life but instead found himself living the kind of banal existence that he could quite easily have managed by staying at hope. In a last ditch attempt to shake off his ennui, Lewis-Kraus embarks on three historically life changing pilgrimages – the Camino de Santiago in Spain, a circuit of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku, and a visit to the tomb of a famous Hassidic mystic in Ukraine – that cause him to question his search for purpose in life and understand how both the past and the present are necessary to shape the future. A Sense of Direction does feature a fair amount of trustafarian angst and anger but once you settle into Lewis-Kraus’ writing style and begin to understand his character, the book opens up into a humours, inspiring story of a man undertaking a series of fantastic, grueling journeys while at the same time trying to make peace with his own life.
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