Hans-Peter Kerkeling

Overall Rating: 8
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Author: Hans-Peter Kerkeling
Title: Ich bin dann mal weg [I’m Off Then]
Time: 2001
Destination: Santiago de Compostela
Length: about 7 weeks
Type: mostly walking
Rating: 8/10

The honest comedian

The story: HPK, German comedian, actor and presenter, finds himself in some sort of personal crisis. He thus decides to walk the Camino. Even though this doesn’t mean he has to walk every bit of the way (he calls himself a couch potato on page 2 and resorts to hitchhiking every once in a while) he eventually makes it to Santiago in about 7 weeks.

Hans-Peter Kerkeling’s lively Camino

The resulting book is extremely entertaining: HPK writes in a charming down-to-earth voice and uses his talents as a comedian to make this Camino a very lively and funny one. Some of his depictions of other pilgrims are downright hilarious. Another thing that stands out is the fact that it sounds very earnest and touching when he is talking about his personal life and his ideas and worries. Here is a guy who hitches rides and refuses to stay in a refugio if it’s too dirty – and we love him for it, because we can empathize with his weaknesses, and we respect his honesty. So is this book a 10?

esoterism leaking through

No, I would have liked it to be, but it’s not. The reason is (and this seems to be a general theme in contemporary Camino literature) that there is a bit too much esotericism leaking through its pages. Of course it can’t be anywhere near as bad as the writing of Paulo Coelho or Shirley Maclaine (they’re in the All-star League of esoterics) but sometimes it just gets a tad too quirky. For example: HPK’s recount of a „previous life“ experience as a Polish monk who was executed by the Nazis. This might work for some, but it didn’t seem very interesting to me.

Anyway, I am going to rate this one as an 8 out of 10. The good parts are extremely good, and the whacky parts are little, and not really that annoying. An easy read, and a fun read.

There is an English edition out on the market – I suggest picking it up!


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