Beyond the House of the False Lama: Travels with Monks, Nomads and Outlaws

George Crane, Author
George Crane, Author . Harper San Francisco $24.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-06-052441-8
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-06-085828-5
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In the southwestern reaches of the Gobi Desert of Inner Mongolia, near the Wolf Mountains, beyond the House of the False Lama, lies a lost temple, one of the few that escaped the mass destruction by the Communist Chinese. Readers of Bones of the Master (2000), Crane's book about his earlier travels in the area with the Zen monk Tsung Tsai, might reasonably expect a second quasi-mystical nomadic quest, especially as that's the setup for this new book. But it doesn't happens. Instead, Crane, an aging hippie-poet whose zeitgeist is unrepentantly lodged in the countercultural 1970s, uses the excuse of a failing marriage to leave home (Woodstock, N.Y., where else?) to spend a couple of years on the road—solo. First, he signs on to help deliver a boat from Key Largo to Grenada. Next, he's off to Paris to reminisce about past adventures, past loves, old friends. Late in 2003, he does get to Inner Mongolia, and it hardly matters that no temple is found. There's definitely a select audience for this kind of personal travel book, peppered with poetry and somewhat wacky though amiable reveries. Agent, Ned Leavitt. (Oct.)

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