TURTLE FEET by Nikolai Grozni


The Making and Unmaking of a Buddhist Monk
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Join a spiritual seeker on his journey to becoming a monk.

A promising jazz pianist, Bulgarian native Grozni came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Soon fed up with the course his life had taken (“I’m angry at the world!” he yells at one point. “And I’m getting out.”), he moved to the Himalayas to study Buddhism. Aided every step of the way by a tiny Tibetan nun named Ani Dawa, Grozni assimilated into life at the monastery, but he possessed a rebellious streak that often made it difficult for him to become at one with himself. Eventually he came to the realization that a life in which you’re expected to quietly contemplate all the time wasn’t for him, so—spoiler alert—he shed his robes and fulfilled a teacher’s prophecies that one day he would disrobe, fall in love and write silly books. Well, the teacher was almost on target: This book isn’t the least bit silly. Much of the narrative is a trifle mundane, but that’s to be expected—to a Westerner the daily life of a monk is in many ways as mundane as it gets. But readers who take a Zen approach to the text will probably get sucked into monastic simplicity and Buddhist philosophy. And things definitely liven up whenever Grozni’s charismatic, profane, cigarette-sucking pal Tsar comes on the scene. The hyper, loopy yin to Grozni’s mellow (or at least attempting to be mellow) yang, Tsar helps turn what could have been a staid memoir into something original and special.

Zen and the art of writing a pretty cool book.

Pub Date: May 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59448-984-6
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2008


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