Ultimate Voyage

William Gilkerson, Author Shambhala Publications $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-57062-364-6
Gilkerson's allegorical debut tries to incorporate Buddhist teachings into a juvenile swashbuckler--with even worse-than-expected results. Fulfilling a childhood pledge to each other, five sailors, born into different social classes but drawn together by their love of the sea, embark from their native town of Port for uncharted waters aboard the Alembic, which they have built themselves. As fate would have it, the sailors are distinct personality types. Bosun, the would-be captain, is efficient and ambitious to a fault. Stewart, the son of a philanthropist known as Master, is aristocratic and generous. Intellectual Pilot values knowledge over instinct. Flags loves culture and women, not necessarily in that order, and goodhearted, dull Crew performs menial chores without complaint. During the journey, each man experiences a personal crisis, followed by a quasi-mystical epiphany. For example, Pilot learns the value of ""not thinking,"" Bosun confronts the illusory qualities of rank and Stewart discovers the meaning behind his family motto: ""In Nothingness is all."" Along the way, the novel jettisons every shred of unpredictability and good sense. From the cameo appearance of the Ancient Mariner (yes, that Ancient Mariner), to the grass-skirted native girls perpetually eager to ""make boom-boom,"" the Alembic's voyage makes for a puerile misadventure of a book. Illustrations by the author. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-1-57062-461-2
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