Neon Pilgrim

Rated 3.50/5 based on 3 reviews
Seriously unfit & unmotivated, Lisa Dempster is an unlikely candidate for a gruelling outdoor adventure. When her life needs a shake-up, she decides the only thing for it is to hike the henro michi, a 1200 kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan. Lisa’s journey from overweight dole bludger to intrepid explorer is a witty & fascinating insight into Japan’s famed pilgrimage

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Review by: kenneth culbert on Sep. 09, 2010 :
In a few weeks time I will be walking the Shikoku pilgrimage so I stumbled upon this book with more than a passing interest. I started to read yesterday and have just finished, a testament to Lisa’s engaging and candid narrative. The story is not a self indulgent diary and moves seamlessly between a travelogue and a therapeutic journal. Occasionally and in the right dosage she opens a window into her inner process as Lisa struggles with the sheer physical, mental and emotional challenge of the pilgrimage.

I have enormous respect for her achievement but also for being able to share her experience in a very personal and generous way. I read the book as I would watch a good horror movie, turning the page to find out what happens next and feeling the tightness in the pit of my stomach.
In the end I didn’t know if I was reacting to what she went through or having anticipatory anxiety about what I am about to experience for myself. Some times ignorance is bliss.

Putting aside my vested interest the book is an entertaining read and you may well be wishing the journey could have lasted just a little longer.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Malcolm Rieck on May 13, 2010 : (no rating)
To a seriously unfit and unmotivated reader this book is a real tonic and inspiration. The book is well written, warm, funny and will make you consider emulating the real-life heroine. Not necessarily in carrying out the 1200km Shikoku pilgrimage but maybe in finding your own mountain to climb.

I am even in the early stages of considering whether I could follow in Lisa's footsteps. I have bought some Japanese language software so who knows?
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Natalie Balestra on Feb. 11, 2010 :
Lisa Dempster's courage to take on such a daunting pilgrimage is incredibly admirable. The descriptive nature of her writing is captivating and throughout the book, you learn to empathise with her and silently cheer her on to finish the full 1200km pilgrimage that she has madly chosen to walk. While reading the first half of the book, I often felt physically exhausted myself!

I think anyone could enjoy this book, but you can only really appreciate and love this story if you hold Japan close to your heart, or have experiences somewhat similar to those in the book. A lot of people I know would struggle to feel engaged in a story so removed from their everyday life (not in a captivating fantasy or sci-fi way) that uses so many foreign words throughout the book that they need to keep track of.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find an astonishing amount of errors in it. "On" instead of "one", "craved" instead of "carved", multiple sentences that didn’t make sense because of extra or omitted words... Considering that the author claims to be an editor herself, I expected much more.

I found the editing in this book incredibly disappointing, to the point where I was so annoyed that I almost threw the book in the bin several times without finishing it!

That aside, I don't regret reading the book and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who can see past errors and still be able to enjoy a book for the story alone.
(reviewed long after purchase)

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