Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga

The Consoltations of the Forest by Syvain Tesson
: September 7, 2013 by Rizzoli Ex Libris
Originally Published: January 1, 2011
Sylain Tesson wants to leave the life he's living in Paris. So he decides to travel and spent 6 months in a small cabin in Siberia. Without a connection to the outside world, with only food, books, and vodka, this is his journal from February to July, living in the wilderness.

Going into this book I couldn't help but get excited about how amazing it would be to escape from real life for such a long period of time. (Of course I think I'd much rather be on a tropical island in heat, than cold in the Siberian winter!) Think of how much time you'd have to relax. Think of all the books you could read. Think of how refreshed you'd feel at the end. But as Sylain learns, what happens to your relationships with those you left behind?

In some ways this book reads similar to a journal I could write in a similar experience. Each day is like the one before. He goes fishing, he goes on hikes, he reads books, he kayaks once it gets warmer, and of course, drinks a lot of vodka. And while each item doesn't happen each day, by the end it feels like he's done the same thing over and over again, so much so that it's hard to keep reading. About halfway through, he brings two dogs to the cabin which helps to break up the monotony, and made me excited each time the dogs were mentioned.

I do think this book had potential, but unfortunately it didn't quite work for me. Maybe if it had been edited down a bit instead of having an entry for practically ever day for 6 months, it would have been easier to read. But even so, after finishing I can't help but have a longing for the type of peace and fulfillment you could achieve with so much time to sit back and reflect.


A meditation on escaping the chaos of modern life and rediscovering the luxury of solitude.

Winner of the
Prix M├ędicis for non-fiction, THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE FOREST is a Thoreau-esque quest to find solace, taken to the extreme. No stranger to inhospitable places, Sylvain Tesson exiles himself to a wooden cabin on Siberia’s Lake Baikal—a full day’s hike from any “neighbor”— with his thoughts, books, a couple of dogs, and many bottles of vodka for company. Writing from February to July, he shares his deep appreciation for the harsh but beautiful land, the resilient men and women who populate it, and the bizarre and tragic history that has given Siberia an almost mythological place in the imagination.

Rich with observation, introspection, and the good humor necessary to laugh at his own folly, Tesson’s memoir is about the ultimate freedom of owning your own time. Only in the hands of a gifted storyteller can an experiment in isolation become an exceptional adventure accessible to all. By recording his impressions in the face of silence, his struggles in a hostile environment, his hopes, doubts, and moments of pure joy in communion with nature, Tesson makes a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary experience relatable to the reader who may be struggling with hir or her own search for peace and balance in life. The awe and joy are contagious, and one comes away with the comforting knowledge that “as long as there is a cabin deep in the woods, nothing is completely lost.”

Author Bio
Sylvain Tesson is a writer, journalist, and celebrated traveler. He has been exploring Central Asia—on foot, bicycle, and horse—since 1997. A best-seller in his native France, he is published all over the world—and now in the United States.
Disclosure: I was provided this book through France Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own

1 comment:

  1. thanks for your honest review, sorry it did not work so well for you. Emma [France Book Tours]