Release date: September 17, 2013
Page number: 256
HC ISBN: 978-0-8478-4127-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8478-4140-0
I have not read Thoreau’s work yet, but when I visited Walden Pond I had a strong urge to not only read his book but to also to find a cabin of my own to live in away from society for a stretch of time. I haven’t been able to fulfill this dream yet.
Sylvain Tesson has. Not only has he done what I want to do, but he’s written a wonderful book about his experiences. At first I was hesitant that I would get bored with The Consolations of the Forest. I mean, it’s about one man living on his own in a cabin on Lake Baikal in Siberia. I think in less capable hands the book would have been a near miss. However, from the first page of Tesson’s book I was hooked. It’s not a thriller of any type, but I couldn’t put the book down. His insights about solitude, his descriptions of the landscape, and discussions on the readings he brought with him were a delight to read. What impressed me was the way he was able to pull me into his world. Some might think his story progresses slowly, but that’s what I loved. Each diary entry pulled me further and further into his world and I didn’t want it to end.
His diary opened my eyes to not only the world he was experiencing but to our world as well. Some of his descriptions are beautiful, but haunting. And he has a wicked sense of humor and keen insight into the human world.
Winner of the Prix Médicis for non-fiction, THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE FOREST is a Thoreau-esque quest to find solace, taken to the extreme. No stranger to inhospitable places, Sylvain Tesson exiles himself to a wooden cabin on Siberia’s Lake Baikal—a full day’s hike from any “neighbor”— with his thoughts, books, a couple of dogs, and many bottles of vodka for company. Writing from February to July, he shares his deep appreciation for the harsh but beautiful land, the resilient men and women who populate it, and the bizarre and tragic history that has given Siberia an almost mythological place in the imagination.
Rich with observation, introspection, and the good humor necessary to laugh at his own folly, Tesson’s memoir is about the ultimate freedom of owning your own time. Only in the hands of a gifted storyteller can an experiment in isolation become an exceptional adventure accessible to all. By recording his impressions in the face of silence, his struggles in a hostile environment, his hopes, doubts, and moments of pure joy in communion with nature, Tesson makes a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary experience relatable to the reader who may be struggling with hir or her own search for peace and balance in life. The awe and joy are contagious, and one comes away with the comforting knowledge that “as long as there is a cabin deep in the woods, nothing is completely lost.”
To follow the other stops on the blog tour click here. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tomorrow I will share an excerpt on my 50 Year Project blog and there will be a giveaway for US and Canadian readers.