Turtle Feet: The Making and Unmaking of a Buddhist Monk

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Overview

A brilliantly colorful memoir of becoming a monk and a young man's spiritual journey in India.

Nikolai Grozni, a Boston jazz piano prodigy struck by spiritual ennui, suddenly abandoned 15 years of music studies to seek out the Dalai Lama's university in India, where he began his quest for the ultimate truth. Instead of finding answers, Grozni fell in with an unusual cast of characters, and struggled with Buddhist logic and with the many small challenges to life as a monk in...

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Overview

A brilliantly colorful memoir of becoming a monk and a young man's spiritual journey in India.

Nikolai Grozni, a Boston jazz piano prodigy struck by spiritual ennui, suddenly abandoned 15 years of music studies to seek out the Dalai Lama's university in India, where he began his quest for the ultimate truth. Instead of finding answers, Grozni fell in with an unusual cast of characters, and struggled with Buddhist logic and with the many small challenges to life as a monk in a community of Tibetan refugees. Turtle Feet is his bittersweet and funny memoir about the search for higher power, and the discovery of oneself amidst teeming, chaotic, and glorious humanity.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Anne Lamott
This is a rare and wonderful book, unlike anything I've ever read before. Rich in detail and humor, with a quirky and exotic cast of characters, it's an exquisitely written journey through life in a Tibetan monastery and village, where a brilliant young Western monk encounters discipline, freedom, Buddhism and himself. (Anne Lamott, author of Grace (Eventually))
A. J. Jacobs
Turtle Feet is a remarkable book. Yes, it's a spiritual journey filled with beautiful insights – but it's also a funny and gritty tale of dysentery, stoner roommates, cranky monks and flirty nuns. I felt enlightened for having read it. (A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically)
Publishers Weekly
This book about Tibetan monkhood certainly fits the description of the "extreme" memoir. Written by a Bulgarian novelist who was educated in the United States (Brown University) and India (down the street from the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala), this book takes a long time to get good, but it does get there. The most fascinating character is not the narrator, an archetypal youthful apprentice figure. That honor is reserved for a fallen, stateless monk from Bosnia who is a Zorba figure, enticing the narrator not to lusty appreciation of the world's wonders but to what Buddhists call seeing things as they are?enlightenment that is ultimately no big deal. There are passages of beauty about the nature of the mind and existence that few books about Buddhism can rival, because few books about Buddhism are written by authors with creative training. But a good editor should have reined in the author's disproportionate focus on the main character's excesses; it would have helped pacing and made a shorter and more convincing read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Join a spiritual seeker on his journey to becoming a monk. A promising jazz pianist, Bulgarian native Grozni came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Soon fed up with the course his life had taken ("I'm angry at the world!" he yells at one point. "And I'm getting out."), he moved to the Himalayas to study Buddhism. Aided every step of the way by a tiny Tibetan nun named Ani Dawa, Grozni assimilated into life at the monastery, but he possessed a rebellious streak that often made it difficult for him to become at one with himself. Eventually he came to the realization that a life in which you're expected to quietly contemplate all the time wasn't for him, so-spoiler alert-he shed his robes and fulfilled a teacher's prophecies that one day he would disrobe, fall in love and write silly books. Well, the teacher was almost on target: This book isn't the least bit silly. Much of the narrative is a trifle mundane, but that's to be expected-to a Westerner the daily life of a monk is in many ways as mundane as it gets. But readers who take a Zen approach to the text will probably get sucked into monastic simplicity and Buddhist philosophy. And things definitely liven up whenever Grozni's charismatic, profane, cigarette-sucking pal Tsar comes on the scene. The hyper, loopy yin to Grozni's mellow (or at least attempting to be mellow) yang, Tsar helps turn what could have been a staid memoir into something original and special. Zen and the art of writing a pretty cool book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594489846
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikolai Grozni was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and educated in the United States and India. In previous incarnations, he has been a piano prodigy, jazz musician, and Buddhist monk. The author of three novels published in Bulgaria, Grozni holds an MFA from Brown University. He is married to the writer Danielle Trussoni. Turtle Feet is his first book of nonfiction.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    "Enlightning"

    After having read, "What Makes You Not A Buddhist," a friend recommended this book as well. For anyone who is doing some soul-searching, this book makes you feel like you have lived in Nikoolai's shoes! I just finished it and am sad that it is over as I feel like I have spent the last few years living in India with him! HIs words are truthful and have shown me the "other side" of religion and what it really means to be spiritual!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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