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This Flawless Place Between: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Bruno Portier

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Hurtling over the edge of the precipice, Anne embraces the moment, relishing the cool air streaming through her hair, the setting sun’s shimmering light, the freedom of release from the earth before gravity comes back to claim her. She takes the time to enjoy it. It will be over soon.

For all those who loved The Alchemist, Siddhartha, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, This Flawless Place Between is a mesmerising and uplifting story about death and dying. Interweaving the key themes of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, one of the world’s most influential and treasured spiritual texts, Portier gently explores our deepest questions about life, love, and death with a refreshing openness and delicacy.

Anne and Evan are vacationing in the Tibetan mountains when on an isolated stretch of road they lose control of their motorbike. Bike and riders spin over the edge, plunging into a ravine. Evan’s leg is broken; Anne isn’t moving. A Tibetan peasant hurries to help them, but while Evan tries in vain to save Anne’s life, the stranger focuses on guiding her spirit along the new path it must take to the next one. So begins a cathartic voyage that carries Anne away from her broken body and back through the traumas and ecstasies of her life. Once again, she is a child mourning a dead pet, a young woman embracing her lover, the radiant hostess of an art exhibition, a distraught mother hearing that her young daughter has been critically injured. As she revisits her past, and the futures of those she will leave behind, Anne begins to accept not only her death but also her life – and that what happens next will be up to her.

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Product Description


“Brave, mesmerising, and strangely beautiful.” - New Internationalist

“This inspiring novel will quench anyone's thirst for knowledge and spirituality.”

--Psychologies Magazine

“Imaginative... provocative, emotional, and strangely comforting. Highly recommended for those who dislike a treacly view of the afterlife and also for skeptics who think this is all there is.” - Publishers Weekly

“Engagingly beautiful.”

--The Bookbag

“Fast-paced, highly descriptive and, at times, almost poetic in vivid elaboration... we can all benefit from the message.”

--Kindred Spirit

‘Few have written as bravely or as beautifully about dying.’ Best of 2012 - New Internationalist

Book Description

Interweaving themes from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, This Flawless Place Between is a spellbinding reimagining of one of the world’s most influential and treasured spiritual texts

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1284 KB
  • Print Length: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; Reprint edition (1 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #432,616 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deeply beautiful 28 Oct. 2012
By Citizen - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a lovely book that offers a profound Buddhist teaching to a Western audience in an accessable way. This is a perspective that enlarges our understanding of the life and death and is very worthwhile offering to those who work with end of life issues. And it is a profound teaching to those of us who do not give much time and thought to mortality.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars simple and beautiful 7 July 2013
By jenny stanbury - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Using a personal tale to tell the story of death from a Buddhist perspective allows the reader to imagine themselves in the same situation. The process of death becomes clearer and more accessible rather than reading a purely philosophical, instructional text. It's ease and lightness was wonderful.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Flawless Place Detailed in a Nigh-Flawless Text 3 Aug. 2012
By ShockYourMind99 - Published on
I deeply, profoundly enjoyed reading This Flawless Place Between. The text makes accessible for Westerners the core concepts of the Tibetan Book of the Dead by way of contextualizing those concepts in a capably-written, easy-to-follow narrative. For those of you who haven't the time or perseverance to take on the one of the many several-hundred-page translations of the original text, I highly recommend This Flawless Place Between as an alternative. Ersatz or not, it gets the proverbial job done. The reader leaves the work not only with a basic knowledge of the death process--or what those in the Tibetan traditions profess to know about it--but also with very clear instructions for attaining--assuming one believes in reincarnation--a favorable rebirth. If you are anything like me--a well-meaning but wobbly Buddhist--This Flawless Place Between is a book you'll be glad to have read.

--high interestability
--little padding, filler
--well-drawn central protagonist
--effective edu-tainment

--uneven pacing
--poor copy editing
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good 3 April 2013
By Suzette Madanat - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I actually enjoyed this book. It definitely keeps you interested in what's happening and can make you look at life and death differently as well.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dramatizes the Tibetan Book of the Dead 3 Aug. 2012
By John L Murphy - Published on
This novel dramatizes the bardo passages from death into afterlife and then rebirth from the teachings known in the West as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead." Bruno Portier, a documentarian turned ethnologist, tells a tale both straightforwardly linear in some sections, and post-modern in its cyclical and fragmented structure in its middle sections, as the protagonist Anne's fate after a motorbike goes off of a cliff in the Himalayas leads to her own entrance into the worlds beyond.

Gregory Norminton translates "Bardo, Le Passage," from 2009 fluidly. It's noteworthy that the title in the original implies the French audience may be familiar with this term already, while the English-language audience encounters a more poetic evocation of the "place between." The version's not quite flawless. A few glitches remain, one in the footnoting and a couple in botched phrasing. But overall, this imaginatively depicts what happens to Anne before the accident and after. Interspersed we find the plight of her lover, Evan, and the intervention for the couple by Tsepel. As a Tibetan, this old man speaks aloud to Anne the text of the Bardo Thödol Chenmo, the "liberation by hearing in the after-death transition" meant to liberate the departed one's entanglement from the mental projections that keep one locked in the cycle of death, liminality, and rebirth.

This review will not give away much more, as the chapters following the bardos of the moment of death, of reality, and of rebirth possess inherent fascination and uncertainty of what will happen next remains this novel's strength. Portier enters the last beats of the heart and the first glow of the womb with equal imagination. Relationships past and present emerge little by little, revisited and revised as their repetition sharpens their meaning for the one caught up in the passages beyond this life.

Portier's patterns reminded me of the 2010 film by French-Argentinian director Gasper Nöe, "Enter the Void." This presents a bolder, rawer vision compared to Portier's, yet readers of this poignant story may be prepared better for the raw depictions of this cinematic assault which takes one into similar spiritual terrain. Fans of that daring depiction of the bardo stages may compare the gentler, quieter upheavals undergone by the book's similarly distraught and confused characters, as death descends.

The book offers a brief introduction summing up the TBoD and a short bibliography. It needed more inclusions. I'd add to the Fremantle-Trungpa and Thurman translations and Sogyal Rinpoche's "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" mentioned in that list. Consult for the Bardo Thödol the full edition of liberation teachings composed by Padmasambhava, revealed by Terton Karma Lingpa, translated by Gyurme Dorje, edited for Penguin by Graham Coleman and Thupten Jingpa as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead: the First Complete Translation." Also, for beginners, I recommend a handsome version by Martin Boord and Stephen Hodge, "The Illustrated Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Reference Manual for the Soul." Finally, Richard Gere's audiobook recital of the Fremantle-Trungpa can be an appropriate way to listen to the teachings, in the way closest to that of Tsepel within the action of this thoughtful novel.

Putting these esoteric and challenging manuals of advice into a short, vivid tale represents a fine endeavor to widen their impact. An author's note mentions that Portier is working on a sequel. I look forward to it. (P.S. I reviewed on Amazon US the TBoD in Gere's audiobook, Sogyal Rinpoche's version, Boord + Hodge's translation, and the Penguin ed. all in 2008.)
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