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Fellowship of Ghosts: A Journey Through the…

Fellowship of Ghosts: A Journey Through the Mountains of Norway

by Paul Watkins

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745231,054 (3.81)4



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Deceptive - if not deceitful - and oh so poorly photoshopped cover design is just the beginning. The jacket text is equally misleading. Understandably, because the whole journey is so out-of-the-uncommon that no one would bother to read it. It is several Norwegian weekend trips strung together. "Alone and almost always on foot" would be poor enough, but it's not even true. Motoring more than walking and writing as much of people he meets as about solitude, not even this much is true. Turns out we're lucky he isn't alone more often. The mystification of random thoughts and the forced transcendentalism of his observations borders on the ridiculous. The most frequent beginning of a sentence in the book is "If is as if..." Knowing that what he sees and experiences is far from good enough to justify a book, this strategy is understandable, but can't work. And the recollections, associations and even the biographies he conjures up from his "raised awareness" never quite seem to fit in.
Watkins uses the traditional technique of travel writing (go into a lesser known region (at least in America) with a couple of old books of people who went there a long time ago and match the experiencess), but, sensing it doesn't work out, he widens the range of subjects to (very far-fetched) autobiographical stories and seemingly unconnected issues (polar exploration and Vikings couldn't be farther from well-trodden mountain paths in the Norwegian hinterland).
What I did like about the book was some witty metaphors and beautifully rendered imagery of the landscape, but that's about it. 3 1/2 stars? How come?
  Kindlegohome | Oct 19, 2016 |
I just loved this. Loved, loved, loved it. The travel part was fascinating but it just proved to me again and again why Paul Watkins is one of my favorite authors. A nice mixture of his travel refelctions, other reflections, humour and deep thoughts, a bit of everything. I love his writing style, I felt like I was there with him and I love how much he lets his travels change him and shares those moments. The travels with the older writers who went these ways before was a great twist. A completely enjoyable and engrossing read.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
There aren't many modern travel books on Norway, so I stuck with this more patiently than it perhaps deserved. It came good in the end though, with some thoughtful meditations on Norway and on life. I was irritated by a piece of fiction being referred to in the text as if it were a factual account. ( )
  SimonMSmith | Jun 20, 2011 |
In terms of travelogues, this is probably an acquired taste - Watkins journeys through landscape but also through some obscure 19th/early 20th century travel books by various eccentric walkers and explorers... so you have to be prepared to take on board Watkins' judgements about travel literature, as well as his descriptions of walking in Norway.

Some previous knowledge of Norway, or a little travel in western Norway will help your enjoyment.

Also, a minor quibble - the subtitle "Travels in the Land of the Midnight Sun" is a little misleading. Watkins never travels north of Trondheim, which is still a significant distance south of the Arctic Circle. So technically he never reaches any piece of land where the sun shines at midnight. ( )
  etnobofin | May 10, 2008 |
I didn't make it through the whole thing. OK. ( )
  brownsica | Feb 19, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0792267990, Hardcover)

Acclaimed writer Paul Watkins describes his spellbinding solo trek through the wilds of Norway's Rondane and Jutunheimen mountains—grand but harsh landscapes where myth and reality meet. His adventure takes him through valleys bordered by thousand-foot cliffs, roaring waterfalls wreathed in rainbows, blinding glaciers, and shimmering blue snowfields. Yet this is also some of the harshest, most challenging terrain in the world. Watkins's route follows razor-thin ridges, hair-raising paths, and vertigo-inducing drops. An engaging and reflective memoir, The Fellowship of Ghosts captures the profound connection between the Norwegian landscape and the myths, peoples, and dreams that it inspires.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:24 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"As a young crewman on a deep-sea fishing boat off New England, Paul Watkins suffered an accident that shattered his jaw. Lying in his bunk at night, still a hundred miles from shore, Watkins listened to a fellow sailor tell stories of his childhood home in Norway. Images of this crystalline, magic-sounding land persisted in Watkins's mind until, on reaching port, he resolved to go there on his own." "In the Fellowship of Ghosts, the young writer arrives among the ice-clad peaks and dark fjords of Scandinavia with only a rucksack and a rolled-up tent. Making his way on foot, he follows the paths of long-dead travelers, endures the furious, fast-changing weather, and confronts the magisterial presence of the past among these famous cliffs and mountains. In this account, Watkins re-creates the majesty and mysticism that gave rise to Norse mythology and delivers one of our finest accounts of life in the land of midnight sun."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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