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Pilgrim Snail: Busking to Santiago Paperback – 4 Jun 2001
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The impetus behind Ben Nimmo's mammoth walk from Canterbury to Santiago de Compostela in Spain as described in Pilgrim Snail was a sombre one: he wanted to pay tribute to the girl he loved, murdered while working for charity in Belize. But Nimmo's odyssey became a life-changing one, and reading about it is anything but a sombre experience. This fascinating record of his adventure conveys the peaks and troughs with maximum vividness. Nimmo's sole companion on his eventful trip was a trombone, and for the nine months (and 2,000 miles) of his journey he struggled against injuries, massive storms and even a phantom bear--all the time weighed down by his mammoth rucksack. But what makes Nimmo's picaresque narrative so diverting is the panoply of colourful characters he encounters: smugglers with courtly manners, monks who are rather too fond of the communion wine and even a hospitable anti-bloodsports neo-nazi with whom he shares a sandwich. Nimmo lays his head down in everything from ruined castles to bat-infested caves, and engages in such surrealistic pursuits as watching a chicken-worship ceremony in a Spanish cathedral and a game of boules played with square balls. All of this is conveyed in prose that veers from the caustically funny to the sharply evocative, and it's to be hoped that Nimmo picks up his trombone again if his travels make for such quirky and entrancing writing as this. --Barry Forshaw
"Nimmo is delightful and engaging company. This is his first book, yet the prose is polished and the narrative taut, funny and cleverly paced". -- TheGuardianSee all Product description
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Although I do not play an instrument I still found the descriptions of his busking exhilarating. My only disappointment
was that the Spanish part of the pilgrimage was confined to the last 100 or so pages. I had been hoping to read of the
wonderful places I saw when I walked "the Way" in 1997, but this is a minor complaint in a truly memorable book.
The Pilgrim Snail recounts Ben's adventures walking from Canterbury to Santiago - trusty trombone in tow. However, the book's focus is very much on the people he encounters and the friendships he builds. Individual tales range from the hilarious to the moving - told light-heartedly, but never flippantly. I found the result to be a very personal and accessible look at Europe and its inhabitants. The use of language is sublime and regularly had me laughing out loud.
If you want to reignite your passion for life and people (and Dixieland jazz), this book is a must.