Dennis Gastmann

Overall Rating: 8
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Author: Dennis Gastmann
Title: Gang nach Canossa. Ein Mann, ein Ziel, ein Abenteuer. [Walk to Canossa. One man, one goal, one adventure.]
Time: 2012
Destination: Hamburg to Northern Italy
Length: 3 months
Type: on foot

an adventure

[please note: I don’t think that there is an English edition available yet.]

The story: DG is a young German TV journalist, probably best known for his subtle use of humor in revealing political misgivings. After having done a show about different places in the world, he decides to walk from his home near Hamburg to the castle of Canossa in Northern Italy.

Canossa means redemption

Now there is a certain meaning to the expression of “walking to Canossa”. It was in the 11th century, when the pope and a certain King named Henry IV had a massive argument, which lead to Henry having to apologize to the pope at his residence in Canossa. Ever since that day, walking to Canossa really means: looking for redemption.

Dennis Gastmann chasing the absurd

The book is both fun and easy to read. DG walks around, isn’t too stubborn to refuse a ride when the going gets rough, and he has a charming way of telling us about it all.
During the course of his travels, he seems to deliberately go to places that promise to be comical or absurd. He visits the Jehova’s witnesses in their headquarters. Does a survival training. Hangs out at the stock exchange in Frankfurt. And that’s just to name a few. But apart from episodes like these (which sometimes might feel a bit “forced”), DG also tells us something about his own feelings, and he does so in a rather quiet, contemplative voice. I found that very nice.

more fun than King Henry

So where is the redemption in all this? The truth about this book can’t be found in its title, but rather in its subtitle. “One man, one goal, one adventure.” You’re not going to find excessive amounts of soul searching, but rather a young guy who is looking for an adventure. If you liked Hape Kerkeling‘s walk along the Camino or Nigel Barley‘s tales from Africa, then this one might be just the right thing for you. A good book!

8/10.

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