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Five Weeks in the Amazon, by Sean Michael Hayes, is the “book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit” selection for my 2017 Reading Challenge.



5 Weeks in the Amazon


When I first downloaded Five Weeks in the Amazon, I thought it was a backpacking travelogue. After I realized the subtitle leaned way more heavily toward the Ayahuasca and less toward the backpacking, I still wasn't deterred. I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I'm perfectly happy reading about a skateboarder's quest for Universal Truths via jungle plant medicine. I hoped it might delve more deeply into the shamanic aspects of Ayahuasca usage. Other than vaguely describing his diet, it didn't.

Which, I mean, maybe he tried but just doesn't understand those aspects himself. It's a decent enough read if you like reading about other people's trips, explosive “purging”, and masturbatory fantasies. All of which I'm a-okay with, for the record! But this book basically boils down to a privileged, nearly-30-yr old “kid” trying to determine the meaning of life through psychotropics. Far too many passages read as seriously preachy once he thinks he's found an epiphany. He wants to be deep and evolve as a man, but he has no problem airing his ex-wife's and friends' dirty laundry or insulting people throughout the whole book. I appreciate the frankness and honesty, and I know that these epiphanies can be really great, but none of it is as deep as the author seems to think. It's not just that maybe tripping is way better when you're the one doing it, because I've read about shamanic epiphanies that were a joy and really educational to read.

This book really wasn't like that. It's a travel journal about hostels, doing drugs, fantasizing of and writing poetic odes to his girlfriend-not-girlfriend back home, and maybe a smidgen of growth (though that's questionable given his mocking judgments of the flight attendants and their 'unnecessary fakeness' on his way home...)

So if you like that kind of thing, it's an easy and okay read. If you want something a bit more – more about the Amazon, backpacking, or actual shamanic insight – then this is not the book you're looking for.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
13catswaltz
Jan. 18th, 2017 11:52 pm (UTC)

Hahaha sounds like something totally different from what you expected XD I hate it when that happened... it's a nonfiction novel though right?

ahavah
Jan. 19th, 2017 12:24 am (UTC)
A novel by definition is fiction, and this is nonfiction. I'm not sure what you'd consider it. Maybe a memoir? It's actually just reading the diary he kept, though it's way more superficial than I would have thought given the topic.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )