*Blog Book Tour*: The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

Posted Tuesday, 10 December, 2013 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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The Consolations of the Forest byThe Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson, Translated by Linda Coverdale
Published By: Rizzoli Ex Libris (imprint of Rizzoli Publications, Inc.),
17  September 2013
Official Author Websites: Page sur l’auteur (in French);
Tesson @GoodReads
(in French)
Available Formats: Hardcover
Page Count: 256

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the blog book tour for “The Consolations of the Forest” hosted by France Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “The Consolations of the Forest” in exchange for an honest review by the publisher: Rizzoli Ex Libris.  As I stated on a previous non-fiction tour stop, I am being rather active in seeking out non-fiction titles to read! I am naturally drawn into the natural world, which is why this felt like a good fit at the time I requested a stop! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inquisitively Curious to Read: I must say, I have always been intrigued by Siberia, and I started to watch his interview on the link you provided but all I truly understand from it, is the beautiful and sweeping vistas he’s sharing through the photographs he took whilst he was there! Oh, my dear heavens!! The landscape and ‘sense of place’ is evoking a stir in me to read this book! I am very attached to the natural world, and I am finding myself drawn into non-fiction books such as these that explore a connection and a sense of wonder which exhumes reverence &/or ruminative contemplation!

Sylvain Tesson

Author’s Biography:

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. 

Interview with Sylvain Tesson via Le Figaro (Magazine) (also in French)

On his six months spent in the Siberian Forest

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com


The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

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

 Winner of the Prix Médicis 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 his 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.”

Reader’s Note: If you look at the cover art on Tesson’s book you will find slightly raised lettering for the title & subtitle section as well as the author’s name. The essence of the book cover for me is the painting of the isolated and extreme disconnection which Tesson experienced whilst on his six-month sojourn into the wild! I love the ruggedness of the design, as if the book itself was kept in his knapsack as he lived and traveled whilst jotting down his ruminations and observations! The book as well as the man returned back to society a bit weathered and all-knowing of mysterious truths not yet revealed to the wider audience. In this vein of thought, I felt it was best to view the cover in its fullness of glory if only to impart the richness of design! Let me know what it evokes inside your own mind’s eye in the comments section below!

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Taming the Wild Thoughts of Man

I can relate to Tesson’s ambition to pull back from the chaotic swirling of our everyday lives to the brink of where we lose sight of the honest truths about why we are here in the first place. We can become so muddled and clogged by our modern lives, where the natural environment which always lives just a finger touch away from us — dissolves as though it were never there at all. The act of living through the paces brings all of humanity a further step backward to acknowledging the larger picture of ‘where’ we are whilst we walk our journey ‘on Earth’ due to the limited sense of space. The natural world is a wonderful place to walk and abide in a cleansing of our inner life’s turmoil of spirit. Nature has a way of enveloping us in such a warm embrace as to allow time itself to stand suspended. If we are mindful of our surroundings, realising that we are entering into a habitat for which we are only the causal visitor, the experience of what our eyes can drink in and our heart can eclipse through sensory perceptions has an intoxicating allure!

Releasing ourselves into the mercy of nature is what I think any person might at first struggle with coming to terms with as by our very internal nature, we as humans, want to control all the possible outcomes of our actions. In which full effect goes to reason, if we can control our own probabilities how do we learn to suspend logic, reason, and a time-locked certainty of events?

I had a feathering of a chuckling whilst observing Tesson as he first embarked on his journey towards the Taiga itself, whereupon he had to pick up his provisions for his six-month exodus! The bugs I had barely begun to even wonder about even if I have a true-to-life impression of what kinds of bugs one might find out in the wilds of a forest! No, it was the irony of sorting out what to purchase and what to take that struck my fancy the most! As if you were to think back on your last extended stay travel plans, don’t you find that no matter how well-prepared you were in theory, there was always a measure of error in never realising what you should have included instead!? I was pensively lying in wait to see if any of what he proposed to take was not limiting of what he needed to take! Although I must say, I think if everyone took a bit of time to declutter their lives of unessential extravagance if only for a short-term experiment, we all might find the joy in the unexpected simplicity which grows our hearts the closest towards empathy and understanding.

When you start to pull back the layers of your outer world as it merges with your inner world, you start to see the pieces of the tapestry unravel as the stitchings are given new markers. We can effectively change our stars if we are willing to forsake one way of living to embrace a new path of towards enlightenment. In which we are truly living a more humble truth of existence compared to one which is hinged to the cyclic chaos that all to often becomes the norm. Tesson prompts the reader to contemplate their own choices in what they have chosen to forego in their own lives in place of a way of living that is set to a different standard than modern society. Each of us can transcend ourselves onto a path of living in the fullness of a moment and in the realness of a community which extolls the virtues of community spirit which by extension our lives are enriched in greater joy.

A full embrace of the Natural World’s Rhythmic Cycle

As he started to sink into the natural world’s rhythmic cycle, Tesson was allowing his mind to jettison into the realm between where man’s world ends and nature’s begins. I love his unique perspective of describing nature as it inhibits itself from progressing forward and/or makes radical adjustments to proceed with its ancient murmurings of Wintry ablations. Each step forward for the forest, gives him a curious eye towards how microscopic we truly are out where the rules of man are out-ruled by the natural order of life itself.

Not one to shy away from imparting his somewhat cheeky and viscerally stimulating images on the reader who picks up his journal of lamentations, Tesson finds a clear path towards the reader’s imagination being stimulated by the mere thought of what his eyes are taking in off the page! The sheer force of raw nature bubbling to life and etching itself closer to where his tiny cabin lay squat and square by the shore of a massive lake! The brutal truth of how far by foot he would have to travel if he were in need of another human’s presence! I was even whet with curiosity over the close proximity of neighbours of whom might not be as companionable nor as conversative but rather would be more keenly focused on invading or scrimaging with his host country!

I could relate to his intriguing fascination with each wonderment he betook before him, because anyone who has stood still, reflectively pensive and a mind lit open to pure joy will understand the addiction of ‘seeing’ what the natural environment will next reveal to you! There is an aching of belonging to those who tread into the natural depths of where nature resides. The longer you walk alongside our wild inhabitants, noting their routines and nodding at their ordinary moments, the more your apt to find yourself at internal peace. It guides you back, beckoning you to resume where you left off, as though you had only placed a bookmark on a page where you could return back to the story in progress. In some ways, this is a true observation, but the hitching in your chest as you wonder how the animals are fairing in your absence, or how many deep sighs of woe the trees are billowing out of their upper boughs until you drop by again for a visit? This is something that only those who have become awakened can understand and fully respect.

As a turtle who ambles along the forest floor gathering moss and algae on its shell, so too, do humans leave an illuminant trace of their wanderings. Niches of our footprints carving into the order of things, ringing in our presence as each new day we visit gleams into view. The interconnected web of our lives are forever stitched together with the fowl, mammal, and amphibian who takes a measure of a mirth out of their day to stare into our eyes as our paths cross their own. Strangers and foe, yield to acquaintance and friend. Companions outside of their own species whose respect for the other knows no bounds.

To Philosophise, Elucidate, or Elidiate? Is this a Question?

Whilst he continues to go about his ‘new normal routine’ of surviving in mind-bending low temperatures, Tesson takes on a bit of an outer dialogue of his state of place. There are moments where you are curious if the questions he is proposing are to a common explanation of what all men might have considered from one era or another. OR, if his murmurings were the tiny envelopes of discovery he was knitting together whilst being away from every piece of modernism he could escape. He gives short spurts of adjective stylings of his observations, glimpses of what is going on ‘right then’ as he were to leave his journal and pen, in order to stoke the fire or denote the severity of the conditions outside. A man in pause of his new living reality. Therein, we start to see the freshness of his eyes, how keen his observations are becoming and how heart-warming it is that he took the courage to share them with all of us in the form of a book!

I think whilst he was living through this journey towards a deeper self-acceptance and self-transcribed inner record of growth, he was stumbling into writing down key insights that some of us might not notice even if we had half of a proper lifetime to curate the experiences! He has a clever way only a man would find interesting to give us a full sense of his reasonings, and in this, I smile. He isn’t one to be bashful, but he isn’t one to not notice the eloquence of seeing what can be seen yet is not always given the freedom of acceptance.

His ruminative nature of sensing the expanse of time and its ability to be slowed down by certain actions which suspend its power to contract is the mark of someone who sees the beauty of walking. Walking is man’s one way of stilling the passage of time, simply by refusing to allow time to speed past what man is willing to walk against. It very well may be the one singular power we have that few of us attempt to use to our own advantage. The ages have always enquired the elasticity of time and its errant mannerisms for first alighting at a slower speed before kicking into high gear past the speed of light. What causes the shift in perception of time? Is it our actions and our living patterns? Or is it the perception of ‘place’ and ‘setting’ and ‘of being’ that alters how the clock counts its seconds? What if time could blink still and resume at the very same moment your thoughts were centered at a fixed point in nature? As the patterns of time out-of-doors is run against a hidden pattern of synchronicity it is plausible that we effectively could forestall a bit of time whilst inhabiting a well-worn path for foot traffic.

My Review of The Consolations of the Forest:

I have always known that the particular pace of our individual lives was set to a rather high extreme of inefficiency as far as the quality of life being extracted at too high of a cost. I was most likely clued into this at a young age due to the insanity of my own father’s 24/7  time-clock of profession. You start to see the little fragmented ripples in the sphere of life. Where as you intersect with time, it is time itself that becomes your greatest lesson and teacher. You nourish the hidden moments which are blind to your eyes as you live, but are unearthed out of necessity and/or through a determined mother’s insistence of having the family kept together even if the father’s hours were mad-crazy bent against it! In those quiet and sombering hours, you start to see the little ripples of what sets your family apart from others’ who are in the same professional grid.

Where one family might have taken the same course as those before them, mine started to breakaway and create a new path forged out of a desire to create a better life which would sustain themselves long after the work day ended. A curious attachment to a slower pace of acknowledging the rhythms of life was only the beginning. Seeking out a full circle change of season, and community interconnectedness took a much longer quest to uncover! Where the locality of place led to a local excursion of food sources, community-spun events, a natural nod and wink to seasonal joys, and an inertia of earthen artistianal crafts.

In Tesson’s journal of solitude in Siberia, I see reflections of my own heart’s desire to unlock a path towards withdrawing from the regular pace of my own life and world. To where I am not forever hinged to the clock but rather, am the one who winds the cogs to match my own rhythm. To live around others who take extreme pleasure in walking through fog-lit streets and forest passageways which led to a quiet dawn. To feel the dirt fall off the fruit and veg at a farmer’s market held in all tentacles of weather and climate. Conversations boiled to life over exchangements of literature, art, cultural co-mingling events, and the passages of nature’s graceful hand in front of us. There is a heart-rhythm to living and a soul’s earthly quest to re-align itself with a pace which exhumes the internal truths of from whence we came and thus will once again return.

A Curious Footnote:

I thought it was rather smashing of a coincidence that some of the very same books I am including on my classical literature reading list for when I join “The Classics Club” in January 2014 were listed as part of the books Tesson hauled into the Taiga! Books such as: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Twelfth Night or What You Will by William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, The Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights) by Unknown, The Complete Novels by Ernest Hemingway, Tao Te Ching bt Lao Tzu, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain,… his surprising choice was of the book I chose to abandon in fourth grade out of sheer boredom: “Robinson Crusoe” by William Defoe. I would have presumed he would have taken Jack London!?

I must also lay a bit of gratitude to the translator, Ms. Coverdale who turnt French into English in such a drinkable way as to soften the words into a walkable feast!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThe “Consolations of the Forest” Virtual Book Tour Roadmap:

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

The Consolations of the Forest (Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga) by Sylvain Tesson
Published by Rizzoli Ex Libris on 17th September, 2013

Public LibraryAdd to RiffleFormat: Hardcover
Source: Publisher via France Book Tours
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 256

on my Bookish Events Featured on JLAS

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Continuing my discovery of Baikal, the Lake in Siberia by which this book enchanted my mind:

{SOURCES: Cover art and book synopsis of “The Consolations of the Forest”,  Sylvain Tesson’s photograph and the blog tour badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. Blog tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. An excerpt was originally meant to be included but was not ready at time of posting my review. Tweets were able to be embedded due to embed codes taken directly from each tweet on Twitter for sharing purposes. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 10 December, 2013 by jorielov in Author Interview, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Films, Debut in United States, France Book Tours, Journal, Life in Another Country, Nature - Essays, Non-Fiction, Seclusion in the Natural World, Travel Narrative | Memoir, Vignettes of Real Life, Vulgarity in Literature

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2 responses to “*Blog Book Tour*: The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

    • Hallo Ms. Emma,

      I honestly do not use a rating scale for books I review on my blog, as I write a summation per each book I read on a book tour under the “My Review” section which generally is at the conclusion of my explorations of thoughts whilst I read the book. In this post it serves as the conclusion. I’d rather speak honestly and openly on how a book impresses me as I read the context of what the author gave than to lock it in to a rating. I want to allow my readers to make their own minds up about whether or not what I have shared has inspired them to read it as well.

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