Age 28 and fed up with the office job he settled for, Paul Barach decided to travel to Japan to follow a vision he had in college: to walk the ancient 750-mile Shikoku pilgrimage trail.
Here are some things he did not decide to do: learn Japanese, do any research, road test his hiking shoes, or check if it's the hottest summer in history.
And he went anyway, hoping to change his life.
Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains is the absurd and dramatic journey of one impulsive American's search for answers on a holy path in an exotic land. Along the pathway connecting 88 Buddhist temples, he'll face arduous mountain climbs, hide from guards in a toilet stall, challenge a priest to a mountaintop karate battle, and other misadventures.
He'll also delve into the fascinating legends of this ancient land, including a dragon-fighting holy man, a berserker warrior-priest, haunted temples, and a vendetta-driven ghost that overthrew a dynasty.
Told with humor and humility, Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains is a funny, engaging memoir about the consequences of impulsive decisions, and the things you can discover while you're looking for something else.
Also, that boars are terrifying in person.
©2014 Paul Barach (P)2015 Paul Barach
Expected some sort of great turn around, revelation, or at least interesting observations. If I wanted a story about hurt footsies, being disappointed in ones self, awkwardly unexciting encounters with wildlife, a poor recording with a lawn mower running in the background, and the rambling of a spoiled millennial Jew I could have done my own autobiographical account of a trek through scenic New Jersey... I had to refill my prescription because I was so stressed at how bad this book is. If I hadn't spent so much money on it I couldn't have forced myself to finish it.
The author seems a little tired of reading his book by the time he recorded this book. He also seems to lose his place frequently and repeats a sentence several times.
This book probably started out as a story he told friends over beers after he returned from his trip. Unfortunately, like most bar stories it seems like a really good idea at the time to write a book about it, but loses something in the longer form. He tries to intersperse a bit of humor, but even that seems forced. While the trek must have been amazing, the retelling is less impressive.
Paul, you had a pile of good Intel on the history of this place. You were on a trail that sounds legit, your relatively funny. You cried about your blisters for fifteen chapters now and I'm tired of listening it. I want to hold out for your epiphany but as an American of your generation I'm truly upset at the way your representing us. It's like going on a car ride with a five year old screams the whole time, "I want McDonald's".
I appreciate the story, but this did not seem like a journey worth writing a book about. Perhaps a blog post with pictures would have sufficed.
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