Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior


After nearly four months of labored reading, I finished Dan Millman's The Way of the Peaceful Warrior--the literary world's first hollow chocolate bunny.

Recommended to me by an 8th grade student, I was instantly "in" and excited to dig in.  A student handed me this book and I needed to read it for the sheer sake of the connection, the ability to talk about it with him and around other students--this was perfect.  The experience and my plan to use it as the great uniter in my classroom unraveled quickly...and I forced myself to read it, to stick with it, because the kid recommended it to me and I wanted to be able to say I finished it.

I finished it today with little good to say about it--actually, I am more astonished that its sold millions and touts itself as "the book that changes lives." 

Over the course of the past four months, I've read three other books, started another, and have several waiting in the wings--I just could not wait to clear this off my plate, yet rarely wanted to pick it up to work through it.

A true story?  A true metaphor?  A romanticized life experience turned Joycean epiphany?  The journey of poor little rich and confused boy?

It is either boring storytelling by someone who evidently duped the literary world much as James Frey did, OR it is a mostly true story as Millman remembers and romanticizes it and wills it to be, yet still written poorly. 

Either way, you need your own spiritual journey to keep going.

Someone notify the Smoking Gun website!

I don't dismiss the spiritual nature of Dan's journey or the (purported) teachings of the wise and subtly nicknamed "Socrates" who could leap to and from rooftops, place his hands on Dan and send him on journeys into the greatly secret cave to face Darth Vader, and then die in a brilliant flash of light in the water closet...without a trace of ash or dust...the same ash or dust which is supposed to be a part of the elm, the rodents, the grass and the breeze...we are everything and everywhere...except when we vaporize in a gas station lavatory.

Dan leaves the service station--its night employee just died in a toilet flambe--and no one is left to pump the gas.  Or tell the station owner why its night employee vanished.

Perhaps Socrates owned the service station--that is never made clear.  He used an office, perhaps it was his.  Did Dan leave a note for the day shift?  Did Dan take over the station and turn it into a modest investment which enabled him to write his book and sell his movie?  Which leads me to the moment just before the spectacular Roman Candlesque death of Socrates...

Socrates handed a Dan a notebook of the history of life so Dan could also write books, be a teacher, make a movie, and take what was once (the point of the book!) a very private act of going on a personal journey of self-discovery and bastardizing it into a paycheck.  Socrates even instructs Dan that living more simply is the key to being a peaceful warrior--get used to living with less and then you'll always have enough.

Get used to living with less...except when you are cashing it in, eh Dan?

This is A Million Little Pieces meets the Karate Kid meets The Bachelor.

I don't buy it...well, I did buy it, but I won't buy the sequel or the Journeys of Socrates or understand the fascination behind a million copies sold.

Just simply awful.

1 comment:

  1. It took less than a chapter for me to agree with this review.