This book is a first of its kind that I've read. It really is a fine piece of travel literature, going beyond merely describing what the author did and where he went in the journey undertaken in this book. As the author warns at the beginning, "Moonlight is a subject almost universally regarded as off-limits to contemporary writers, too kitsch, debased and sentimental to be worthy of serious consideration." However, he bravely takes on the challenge and succeeds in giving a comprehensive account of the religious and cultural significance of the moon and its light in many different cultures.
For example, "Buddha is said to have been born at full moon; in Buddhist iconography the lunar phase has come to represent enlightenment.", "The new moon at this time of year in the Islamic calendar marks the beginning of Ramadan and my Muslim neighbors have arrived, having broken their fast, bearing gifts of food." Beyond the use of the lunar cycle to measure time, it is evident that the Moon has never failed to inspire many generations of artists and poets alike. The very- troubled but very great Italian writer/poet/philosopher Giacomo Leopardi sought answers to existential questions from the moon, "struck by the similarities between his own life and the life of the moon." After all, "each has its eternal rhythms; each, to him, seems equally futile."
It helps that the author is observant, witty and insightful, which makes for an interesting experience and read as he travels (from the blurb) from Normandy to Naples, Wales to Arizona, Las Vegas to Japan. After all, the journey is not always filled with total pleasure as a couple of his trips go awry. Also, the travel was undertaken with financial assistance provided by the Author's Foundation. I think that most people in his shoes would not be able to produce such a compelling and insightful story of moonlight with the kind of poetic and intellectual depth he has shown in his writing. To me, reading it was like a refreshing walk on the beach under the moonlight. Indeed, it does make you want to pull a chair out into the garden and bathe in the moonlight (The New York Times).
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