Author: Helge Timmerberg
Title: Shiva Moon. Eine Reise durch Indien. [Shiva Moon. A Journey Through India.] Time: 2005
Destination: India (along the Ganges)
Length: several weeks
Type: public transport
[Note: not out in English, I believe.]
The story: HT is a German travel writer in his fifties who ventures into India to follow the flow of the Ganges river. He takes trains and cabs into the mountain area around the source, smokes some weed, stops over in a few cities along the Ganges, talks to some people, smokes some more weed and eventually makes it down to the delta, where he watches the river empty itself into the sea.
Helge Timmerberg, soul searching meta-writer
The book is neither very good nor very bad. HT likes Bukowski. He likes to talk about sex and weed. He likes to use strong language. It doesn’t always work out that well, though sometimes it does. The people he talks to are mostly guides, taxi drivers and tourists. Some of the conversations are interesting, others aren’t. He tells little stories, and he supplies the reader with pieces of background information about the surroundings. Sometimes it all feels a bit sloppy. But most of the time it’s still fine.
There are two things that put me off a little bit though: HT likes to talk about his own personal enlightenment („Erleuchtung“) a bit more than he should. It seems like some sort of soul-searching, and it can get annoying at times.
Besides that, he really seems to enjoy talking about the act of writing, so the reader often finds himself being lifted onto some sort of meta-level. Do you want to read about someone traveling or about someone working?
„What am I? That’s easier. I am a writer. And hedonistic. And sometimes, like all writers, severely autistic. Sometimes not so much. May I, at this point, talk about Hemingway for a bit? He said writing makes us lonely.“
gonzo for you?
If you like gonzo journalism, then you might enjoy this. Or maybe if you think that Bukowski is all about the swearing and the booze, or if you are interested in India, or if you’re just looking for a fast and easy read. Again, this is not a bad book.
It’s just not that good either.