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A Simple Monk: 10/18/06

A Simple Monk

Over the summer I joined this very short book ray A Simple Monk. It is a collection of essays and interviews that together paint a picture of the life and works of the 14th Dalai Lama. This coffee table book was published as a means of raising funds for Tibet House in New York. The pieces are interesting but sometimes the glowing and over written text contrasts against His Holiness's humility and moniker of "a simple monk."

As it is a coffee table book, every page has at least one full color photograph. They are colorful and beautiful but often times unrelated to the text on the page. They also seem to come out of order. A greater coherence between the text and the illustrations would have helped to paint a richer portrait of the Dalai Lama.

Here is my BookCrossing Review

I enjoyed the book but had trouble reading it because of its size. My daughter is a new born and loves to held. The book is too large to read easily one handed so I had to sneak a few pages whenever she was napping.

The two excerpts I enjoyed the most were the interview with the late Spalding Gray and the article on the Dalai Lama's journey to Hollywood. The Spalding Gray interview especially touched me for a number of reasons. First I could feel Gray's sadness; he was clearly looking for some way of easing his inner turmoil. Second I enjoyed the spontaneity of the interview; it felt like the best glimpse of the Dalai Lama as a person. Finally the interview took place in a city I hold dear to my heart as it was the first place I lived as an adult and on my own.

The journey to Hollywood interested me for two reasons. The first is that I majored in film so I understand how the business works and found the meeting of cultures fascinating. I can't say we (Californians) did very well with how we behaved while waiting for the arrival of His Holiness. Second, my husband and I had just recently argued over how the Dalai Lama would act in such a situation and my husband couldn't believe he'd even allow himself to be in a situation like a Hollywood pitch party.

Finally the photographs in the book are beautiful. I wish there were more of them!

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