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Going to Dolpo is the story of the author's trek across Nepal, heading for a mountain region called Dolpo below the Tibetan border. The defining characteristic of Going to Dolpo is that things are rarely how they appear. At once the book is an account of pilgrimage, travel literature, adventure and essay; yet at the same time it is difficult to apply these designations. In the end, the one clear judgment that can be made is that Going to Dolpo is a work of skill and originality.
Doyle ties the overland journey to a Buddhist essay that comes and goes throughout the book, where he analyzes human life from a Buddhist perspective. The treatment of the character Kali, the author’s guide, offers readers a sharp view into Nepal and this is one of the high points of the book. At times along the journey, Doyle’s observations may strike one as cold, yet the passion and precision of the author's writing, and the selection of his eye, are signs of empathy, originality and lack of pretentiousness.
As pioneering Jamaican dub musicians of the early 70's approached songs in a prayer-like manner and as Miles Davis approached many recording sessions, Going to Dolpo thrives on an ignorance of the future. The two travelers journey in and out of the mountains and we see no sign of Dolpo, the supposed destination of the author. Is Doyle a mere traveler or an artist with a backpack who has little regard for a convenient end? But does one even care? Throughout the narrative, the reader rides in the flow of this book. The build up and the rhythm move musically in their expression of landscape, traveling, happiness, dread or suffering, and the sense is strong that the author is out there just to see, to watch, to go on and on, and that Going to Dolpo is something of a journey nowhere.
Going to Dolpo is a glimpse into pure life. Only by accident is Nepal the story’s backdrop. Let the rhythm take you through the layers of this book. In all its bewildering subtlety, among the pages where things are not what they seem, Going to Dolpo will suit those who enjoy reading stories of pilgrimage, adventure in foreign lands, philosophical digression, or simply for those who wish to read original and quality writing.
Timothy Doyle is an author and photographer. Going to Dolpo is his first book. He is now writing a novel set in Varanasi, India.
Selections of the writings and photographs of Timothy Doyle can be viewed at www.timothydoyle.net and also at www.imperfectmusic.com. For more information contact Jeff Winkowski of Imperfect Music and Literature at [email protected] or by phone at 773-426-6348. Imperfect Music and Literature, P.O. box 511844, Milwaukee, WI 53203, USA.
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