- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First Edition edition (26 Aug. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0224062654
- ISBN-13: 978-0224062657
- Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 293,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Spanish Steps Hardcover – 26 Aug 2004
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If Tim Moore's Spanish Steps is a prime example of a new kind of travel writing--sardonically funny, quirkily observed and full of bizarre detail--that's good news for readers; if Bill Bryson has forged a whole new genre, who can complain if other writers plough similar fields? Particularly if they do it with as much gusto as Tim Moore. In fact, Moore is actually a rather more penetrating writer than the better-known Bryson, and this tale of a foolhardy pilgrimage with a recalcitrant donkey makes some salient points in between the healthy crop of stinging one-liners.
Moore had been fascinated by stories he'd heard of pilgrimages which many Europeans had taken through sultry and unwelcoming Spanish terrain to Santiago de Compostela. The sub-title says it all: "One Man and his Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago"--and Moore's treacherous donkey is as much a character as the bizarre dramatis personae the author encounters. Everything is against him: weather that saps his resolve at every step of the way, impossible dormitories (some of the funniest sections of the book), eccentric fellow travellers, and an animal that, if it could speak, would be constantly asking "is this journey really necessary?"
Amid the acres of scary impediments that fall into Moore's path, a whole host of detail crowds in that makes Spain come to vivid life: we're given a seat-of-the-pants experience quite as memorable (and occasionally painful) as the author's. The descriptions are priceless:
Unexpected confrontation with full-frontal, Pilsner-bellied German nudity was an occupational hazard in any refugio bathroom (the man's) wrinkled pilgrim parts now rested on the rim of the sink I was waiting to clean my teeth inBut many serious points are made--always lightly--about a million subjects (not least the lessons of history) in the delightful pages of Spanish Steps. --Barry Forshaw
'Andrew Sachs's deadpan reading is a joy' -- The Guardian
'At last, a travel book that makes you think but also makes you laugh out loud.' -- Sue Arnold, The Guardian --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
After "French Revolutions" and "Do Not Pass Go", Spanish Steps starts off slowly, rather like a donkey being pulled towards Santiago. However Moore's humour comes to the fore quickly, I laughed out loud at his struggles to keep his ass under control, the way Shinto the donkey is "an unlikely babe magnet", and his struggles with Spain, the Spanish and everyone and everything else he encounters on the way to Santiago.
Moore's reminiscences of his journey are equally humourous, sad, mellon-collie, frustrating, thought provoking and heartwarming, and that is normally within 2 pages of the book. Along with this he paints a picture of Spain that, knowing Spanish people as I do, is remarkably accurate.
Altogether this is an excellent read, don't be put off by the book's concept - this is a travel book, about a voyage of discovery, with a donkey in tow, and a mighty fine book it is too. Unless your name is Shinto you shouldn't have to be dragged down the road to read a copy of this
We have a bit of an in-joke in our family about FLAN and it's nice to see someone else with the same sense of humour.
Of the two protagonists, it's difficult to work out which of them is the more photogenic, but I think the four legged one wins on points.
Santiago de Compostela is actually quite a lot nicer than poor Tim's experience but his descriptions of the wretched outskirts of the very nice cities there is totally accurate.
I'm just off to buy all his other books now. I'm so pleased I read this as it's introduced me to a really funny writer.
The premise for this book follows much the same pattern -- Moore decides to walk across Spain on a pilgrimage to Santiago, as thousands of Christians have done before him. But he doesn't go alone. Put off by the thought of having to carry bags of clothes and supplies while trekking under a burning sun, he enlists the help of Shinto the donkey, who becomes his reluctant companion, local celebrity, the centrepiece of many a tourist holiday snap and the cause of many of the funnier moments in this book.
If I were to be honest I'd have to say that Spanish Steps probably doesn't have quite as much in the way of embarrassingly-loud-laughter-on-the-bus moments as his previous efforts do, but the funny bits when they do come (and they're still pretty frequent -- often, as I mentioned above, as the result of Shinto and his bridge-hating, Moore-taunting antics) are every bit as good as I've come to expect from the author who wrote the funniest book I've ever read (Frost on my Moustache). Some of his descriptions of refugio living conditions and his fellow pilgrims -- a highly eclectic group of whom we see a lot along the way -- are priceless.
For all Moore's comedic, often cynical, outlook, there are some deeply poignant moments in the book, and no shortage of historical information. The end even brought a wee tear to the eye.Read more ›
A truly entertaining yet also surprisingly touching read, Spanish Steps is another Tim Moore classic. Laughter and tears, high jinx and low ebbs, fascinating history and hysterically funny observations, it had everything I hoped for from one of my favourite authors. (And the photo of Shinto rolling on the ground in the Plaza de Toros still has me chuckling every time I look at it - I love that donkey!)
A real pilgrims-eye view of life on the road to Santiago, Tim Moore tells it like it is and how it was for pilgrims present and past. From not even knowing about the Camino de Santiago I now feel I've walked it, donkey and all!
Bring on the next adventure..!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Being a big cycling fan and having read the cycle books "French Revelations" and "Gironimo" I was less excited about reading about a journey with a donkey. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dr. J. W. H.
Loved it. So very funny. Thanks again Mr.Moore wonderful readPublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Enjoyable amusing interesting read. Ideal for beach or long plane journeyPublished 14 months ago by Robert G. Thoday
A funny non reverential account of one man's Camino with a donkey. Very entertaining.Published 14 months ago by John O'Neill
...that vehicle being Shinto the donkey. The journey to Santiago de Compostela provides Tim Moore with the perfect material for his mix of travelogue and insight. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Rich
I started reading this book in December and it's now February. I'm glad I've finished it and I feel more knowledgeable about the Santiago de Compostela, but I did find Tim Moore... Read morePublished 16 months ago by J. Butler
Read several of this authors books - all very enjoyable reads and in parts hilarious.Published 17 months ago by Malcolm N. Baldwin