Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago

Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago

by Tim Moore
     
 

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"A Donkey?" blurted out my family as one. For a moment it didn't seem they'd ever be able to list all the reasons that made this so entertainingly ludicrous… Yes, I'd never ridden a donkey on a beach or petted one at a city farm, never even pinned a cardboard tail to one's throat after the cake and the ice cream… A donkey would be my hairy-coated

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Overview

"A Donkey?" blurted out my family as one. For a moment it didn't seem they'd ever be able to list all the reasons that made this so entertainingly ludicrous… Yes, I'd never ridden a donkey on a beach or petted one at a city farm, never even pinned a cardboard tail to one's throat after the cake and the ice cream… A donkey would be my hairy-coated hair shirt, making my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela a truer test of the will, a trial."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A man, a donkey, and a very long walk: Moore's latest European adventure (after French Revolutions and others) finds him embarking on an ages-old physical and spiritual pilgrimage across Spain to the famed cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Moore entertains with his snappy one-liners and skewed views of the locals, his fellow pilgrims and his own reasons for undertaking the camino. Against advice to the contrary, he pursues his search for a donkey to accompany him, which "upgraded his camino from big walk to revelatory voyage of self-examination." Moore shines in detailing "Tim and Shinto's Excellent Adventure": during the day, he accumulates "clicks" (kilometers) and cajoles Shinto across bridges, grates and roads; afternoons and evenings are spent searching for donkey-friendly lodgings (and encountering a share of slammed doors). Fellow pilgrims (the "Baroness von Munchausen"; "New Mexico Joe") get full portraits between details of communal living and eating, and the sordid intimacies of the shared bathroom. His sections on the pilgrimage's history and the towns he passes, however, are dry in comparison to his anecdotal asides and may only appeal to history buffs or those who've traveled this route themselves. While Moore may not have found his "inner Tim," he does take readers on an entertaining, unusual adventure. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Moore here amusingly chronicles yet another journey he has undertaken (see, for instance, French Revolutions and Frost on My Moustache). Approaching 40 and in need of a physical and spiritual overhaul, Moore becomes intrigued with a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a medieval must-see. Deciding to make the trip, he acquires a donkey named Shinto and joins a stream of eccentric multinational pilgrims, who bike or walk or furtively jump in taxis as they travel from refugio to refugio along the well-worn route. Moore provides an entertaining account of coping with Shinto's aversion to crossing bridges or puddles, the ubiquitous flan, snoring fellow travelers, and squalid bathing options, all the while immersing his humor in details of historical interest and specific information about each stop and the modern-day trials of a pilgrim. Recommended for public libraries and general travel collections, as well as anyone thinking of taking a long walk with a donkey.-Melissa Stearns, Franklin Pierce Coll. Lib., Rindge, NH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A trepid traveler bonds with his donkey during a picaresque and picturesque walk across northern Spain. Moore (French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France, 2000, etc.) brings his hilarious, smart-alecky sensibility to bear on this-well, tale about a 500-mile journey in company with his ass and with some fairly asinine fellow pilgrims. The narrative plan is hardly unique (he begins at the chronological beginning, ends at the end), but he manages the difficult task of maintaining a highly ironic and even sarcastic tone throughout. What makes it all bearable, laughable, and enjoyable is the pure vein of self-deprecation that also runs from start to finish. Moore very rarely waxes superior to anyone (or anyass) but instead chronicles his myriad difficulties in convincing a particularly willful beast of burden to walk with him across Spain at anything like a predictable clip. Along the way, the author visits many of the relevant sites and shrines (the route was walked by some 60,000 pilgrims in 2001) and does an unobtrusive job, when the situation calls for it, of leading us back to the Middle Ages for some explanation and expatiation. (A little history alongside the humiliation.) Small miracles occur on the camino (for example, a Swiss mule expert actually arrives to help with some donkey lameness), but Moore is not seeking any religious significance in things. He appears to be a nonbeliever who very rarely maligns those who do believe. But his conclusions-such as they are-are steadfastly secular. He describes the profane (there are numerous accounts of his donkey's-and even his own-excretions) as well as the sacred, and he swiftly characterizes (if not caricatures) some of his fellowtravelers: a German who insists on saying "monkey" instead of "donkey"; a woman who looks like a Barbie doll; a man who resembles the young John Travolta. Few donkey puns go unexploited ("I was ready to kick some ass"). Biting words, rollicking entertainment. (16 b&w line drawings)Agent: Georgia Garrett/AP Watt
From the Publisher

“Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, this feels like the natural sequel---a well-told comic misadventure with a history lesson woven in for good measure. This is about the most entertaining travel writing you're going to pick up this year. A rollicking ride through the Spanish countryside with quirky observations, more interesting company than Chaucer seemed to find, and an ass named Shinto who now has enough comic material to jump on the lecture circuit. Arriving in Santiago with Moore was even more enjoyable than the journey I made along the Camino myself. All the fun, none of the blisters.” —Doug Lansky, author of Last Trout in Venice and First Time Around the World
author of Last Trout in Venice and First Time Arou Doug Lansky

Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, this feels like the natural sequel---a well-told comic misadventure with a history lesson woven in for good measure. This is about the most entertaining travel writing you're going to pick up this year. A rollicking ride through the Spanish countryside with quirky observations, more interesting company than Chaucer seemed to find, and an ass named Shinto who now has enough comic material to jump on the lecture circuit. Arriving in Santiago with Moore was even more enjoyable than the journey I made along the Camino myself. All the fun, none of the blisters.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312320829
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/05/2005
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 9.16(h) x 1.18(d)

Meet the Author

Tim Moore is the author of French Revolutions, The Grand Tour, and Frost on My Moustache. He lives in London.

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