Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tantric Coconuts

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog Named Christmas!
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets Life of Pi in this quirky spiritual journey across the wild highways and byways of America.

Free spirit Angel Two Sparrow—artist and musician extraordinaire—is having trouble making ends meet. On the verge of desperation, she inherits her crazy Aunt Lilly’s bookmobile and half-wolf named No Barks, and dreams up yet another life plan. Painting her business card on the side of the van, Angel and her trusty companion set off on a pilgrimage across America hoping to jump-start her new profession: Native American Spiritual Consultant.

Traveling in the other direction, Ted Day and his trusty Irish Terrier-mix Argo are on a much needed vacation (and in need of spiritual nourishment). When he leaves Kansas, Ted can’t image how far from his sleepy law office that old silver and black Winnebago 32RQ Chieftain will take him.

Two lives (four if you count the canines) collide (literally). Once the dust settles, Ted and Angel find themselves enamored. Sensing that something bigger and more profound has been set in motion, the couple embarks on a wild road trip, detouring into some rarely traveled corridors of the human soul. Very soon, it becomes clear that nothing will ever be the same for these travelers, their dogs, and, heck, the world at large, too.

“Coming from the author of books such as A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas with Tucker,” Kincaid writes, “This new novel might at first blush sound like a de­parture for me. And yet, Angel and Ted’s journey throughout the Southwest reveals the themes at the heart of all my work: the ultimate questions of life and love, of companionship and overcoming the odds.”

GREG KINCAID, when not writing, is a practicing lawyer, specializing in divorce and family law mediation. He lives on a farm in eastern Kansas with his wife, three horses, two dogs, and two cats.

I am thankful to Blogging for Books for providing me with a free copy of Kincaid's novel to review. This is my first experience with any of Greg Kincaid's writing, so I had no preconceived notions of what this book would be like. Being on a spiritual journey or quest myself, the description given above from the publisher was enough to get me interested in reading the book.

Tantric Coconuts reads as a didactic piece on spiritual practice and growth couched in the form of a novel. Some of the passages between Angel and Ted (and the other spiritual gurus Ted is introduced to via Angel) felt a bit like a religious studies lecture in dialogue form. Readers will get a very basic viewpoint of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism from the point of view of someone who is a peace with finding the common themes in each religion. (I happen to fall into this camp myself, and so was not offended by this. Other readers who are fundamentally attached to a specific religion's doctrine may find these discussion hard to swallow.)

Having grown up in the upper Midwest, in Lakota territory, I was trying not to read any racism or stereotyping into the author's decision to make the spiritual guru a young, Lakota woman. I suppose it was simply a choice that set the spiritual guide/teacher outside of the realm of the majority of readers' personal experience/religious system.

I found Tantric Coconuts to be a quick and easy read. I was somewhat jealous of the swiftness of Ted Day's enlightenment journey and found myself wishing it could be that way in the real world. In real life most people spend decades doing the Work and still don't end up where Day and Two Sparrow land at the end. But that is the nature of reading fiction; one must suspend reality and live in the universe as created by the author.

I do highly appreciate Kincaid's inclusion of the background texts and sources used in taking Ted Day on this spiritual quest. There are several books listed in the footnotes that I plan to investigate further on my own.

If you find yourself questioning the meaning of life or whether or not there might be more to things than the conventional teachings from your background have to offer, jump in and enjoy the ride with Angel Two Sparrow and Ted Day aboard Bertha the Bookmobile!