Beyond a Book Review: Solo, a Collection of Writer’s Pilgrimages

In this bright new year, it feels right to read about journeys. Pilgrimages, whatever that means. So I finally cracked Solo: Writers on Pilgrimage.

Solo: Writers on Pilgrimage by Katherine Govier, cover

To Margaret Atwood, it means traveling through literary and scientific history to Baffin Bay. To Katherine Govier, it means journeying to a remote mountain in Japan where The Book of Five Rings was penned by swordmaster Miyamoto Mushashi.

I could write them all out, but I’ll stop here. They are so genuine to each person, some written specifically for this collection and with its idea of “pilgrimage” in mind. And others have been reprinted for their tangential, yet illuminating representations of a pilgrimage-like journey.

I’m not traveling at this point in my life. Not in a physical way at least. If anything, I’ve just returned from two weeks for Christmas in the States. I have ideas of physical journeys for next year, dreams of great journeys for 2017 and years beyond.

And yet now I decide to read about these travel essays.

I was “suppposed” to read this book on Mount Fuji. I bought it for $1 at a Toronto Public Library and thought, “This book is about adventures, life-changing spiritual ones, by writers: it’s perfect for my big adventure.”

Plus, I bought it on a whim for a loonie. Who cares if it gets ripped up and ruined?

Little did I know the rain and the despair of not reaching the summit would practically ruin the book. I couldn’t open it on the mountain and I halfheartedly placed it open on the window sill in our Kyoto hotel, ready to leave it for dead.

And yet by the time we left, it had dried.solo2solo3









Sure it has some battle scars. So do I.
Somehow, that’s made us perfect for each other.

I’m still dreaming of travel and there is a part of me wanderlusting and logging each and every destination I read about. When do I get to leave Toronto and venture out again?

But now that the snow has (finally) started outside, I don’t mind traveling on the page. I’ve got too many projects here in Toronto to see through first. I was lucky enough to travel to Asia this fall.

And life is leading me now to build firmer roots where I am right now. That’s my path: to build on the many pilgrimages I’ve taken in the past two years and learn what they mean for me in this place, right now.

Thanks for fueling my internal pilgrimage, Katherine Govier, Margaret Atwood, Michael Collins, Nuruddin Farah, Mark Kulasky, Kate Grenville, Ivan Klima, Joy Kogawa, Wendy Law-Yone, Vijay Nambisan, Nino Ricci, Gail Singer, Doug Coupland, Roddy Doyle, and Andrew Greig.

About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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