LESSONS OF THE ROAD by Michael Schiffer


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Michael Schiffer--Harvard graduate, law school dropout, counter-culture refugee from the Sixties--has contrived a mild, mostly banal little book out of an overland journey from France to Nepal he made with three friends in 1974. Though Schiffer seems to treat the journey as a metaphor of self-discovery, there is little examination of the self here, little to engage the reader in the inner life of the author. What we are offered is an inventory of places visited, sights seen, new faces encountered. As such, it is on a par with dozens of other travel books, containing some vastly generalized cultural observations, occasional deft descriptions of landscapes, and--given the author's orientation--a few obligatory drug scenes. Now and then, Schiffer sees beyond the exotic, as in a brief confrontation with an Afghan nomad. The nomad examines Schiffer's soft white hands and then holds up his ""great brown stumps that look like they've been used to plow the earth directly."" In a moment of recognition, Schiffer realizes that the nomad pities him. For the most part, however, the book meanders as idly as the author's journey and never really finds a center, a core of motivation, within or without.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Kenan/Simon & Schuster