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Snake Lake Hardcover – November 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582436126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582436128
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,341,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Political drama in exotic Nepal is intruded upon by personal psychodrama in this feckless memoir. Journalist Greenwald (Shopping for Buddhas) spent the spring of 1990 reporting from Kathmandu as opposition to Nepal's repressive monarchy boiled over into violence. The setting offered Greenwald political adrenaline, lush atmospherics, romance and spirituality as he began a torrid affair with an expat photojournalist and took instruction from a Buddhist sage. (Sample teaching: " âÇÿthe cause of samsara, of rebirth and suffering, is ego.' ") But the meltdown of his depressed brother Jordan drags him away just as the Nepalese revolution is heating up--and shunts the memoir into an odd portrait of American neurosis. Jordan is a mannered, haughty figure, a brilliant linguist who disdains popular culture, speaks in antique diction--"No man; no beast; no creature of the sea is as wretched as I"--and infuriates people by mimicking them; his hidden sexual dysfunction is the uninvolving mystery at the book's heart. Greenwald tells the story in novelistic style, with reams of verbatim dialogue, but the narrative's moving parts clash instead of resonating; they are like random detours on the author's rather callow spiritual journey. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Raised in the Bronx and outside Boston, adventurous journalist Greenwald has “felt more at peace in Nepal than anywhere else.” There he fell in love; acquired a mentor, the lama Chokyi Nyima; and witnessed the beginning of the 1990 revolution. Greenwald was learning about the worship of snake gods, or nagas; the critical mass needed to overturn a corrupt government; the complexities of attraction; what it means to be a journalist; and how meditation and prayer shape experience when he became seriously alarmed about his troubled brother, Jordan, and realized that family and home can be every bit as mysterious as a foreign land. From his struggle to learn about the dharma to the tale of guilt and exile confided by photojournalist Grace, his getting trampled when soldiers attack demonstrators, and the kaleidoscopic whirl of Katmandu, Greenwald has a gift for electrifying descriptions of the profound intricacy of the world and the mind. His portrait of his erudite, inscrutable, and doomed brother and keenly illuminating memoir of place, spirit, love, and brotherhood are unforgettable. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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The political insights provided by the author was also equally interesting.
PJ
Being a huge fan of Jeff Greenwald's writing, I was very excited to sit down with Snake Lake.
Roxy
And as with all good art, I was forced to look in the mirror and do some self-examination.
James OReilly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Terry Sue on November 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Snake Lake, a telling title for a book that chronicles the ever-changing nature of life, and I mean life in the fullest sense, which includes death. Jeff Greenwald does a superb job layering Nepali history, culture, mythology, and religion with his own deeply personal pleasures, conflicts, and resolutions. His powers of observation and the rich, generous details of his experiences drew me in as if I were a trusted friend. At once journalistic and vulnerable this memoir does what I think a good memoir should; it tells an amazing story about something I knew very little about, in a way that captured my imagination and held my interest from start to finish. I've already recommended it to several friends.

Pearls My Mother Wore
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By western grebe on October 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As someone who loves Nepal and was charmed and delighted reading "Shopping for Bhuddhas" years ago, I was thrilled for another book by Greenwald set in Kathmandu. His humor and ability to bring out people's humanity in the most unexpected moments and colorful locales have made him one of my favorite travel writers. The descriptions of Nepal, as always, made me want to be there, and the accounts of attending his first Buddhist teachings capture the simple realization of another way to think. It's not at all pretentious. Surprisingly, what I enjoyed most were the personal family accounts in the U.S.-- and the story of his brother he seeks to understand. From childhood scenes that play out like a Barry Levinson film, to the disturbing antics of Jordan visiting him at college, his brother is the mystery in the book. Do we ever know anyone? The characters are imperfect, the behaviors not always likeable, but there is loving acceptance and admiration enough to go around. The writing also captures the dueling feelings of freedom and melancholy that accompany shedding one's skin. A great read, and another totally absorbing journey.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jill Glatter on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just finished reading SNAKE LAKE and although disturbing and sad at times, I found it gripping, funny, and couldn't put it down. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book that has just about everything in it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By PJ on April 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I recently finished reading this book.The book is set in 1990's Kathmandu, when the author was working as a freelance journalist for the San Fransisco Examiner. The book unravels the democratic aspirations of Nepali population, and the ultimate success of the 'People's Movement' to establish democracy. Along with author's quest towards Buddhism, his love life with a fellow American photographer, and tragic events leading to suicide of his brother; the book skilfully narrates few other historical, cultural, social, and political events in Nepal. The book is simple, funny, interesting, sad, and even shocking; this is a great read, you will love it even more if you are a Nepali.

The title 'Snake Lake' refers to 'Naag Pokhari', located in central Kathmandu; the author lived in a rented house near this lake. Nag Pokhari is close to my home too, about 15 minutes of walk. I must have walked by it over a thousand times, I must have been in there over a hundred times; but, unlike the author, I never cared for its history, myths, or the physiography.The lake had always been there, like many other cultural/historical/religious monuments, I had taken Nag Pokhari for granted. Jeff Greenwald, however, had a different perspective; his natural curiosity made him better informed. Thankfully, he documented the tales and history surrounding some of these monuments/shrines in Kathmandu, like: relation of 'Naag' (Snakes) to Kathmandu, rise of Swayambhunath, why was Ajima temple built near Swayambhunath and why do people offer first to Ajima before offering to Swayambhunath, information on mysterious and inaccessible Shantipur temple, Tibetan and Nepali version of origin of Boudhanath temple, etc.

The political insights provided by the author was also equally interesting.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brad Newsham on April 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've been a huge Jeff Greenwald fan for a couple of decades and counting: I have read and loved each of his books; I am always on the lookout for one of his many excellent magazine articles; and several times I have treated myself to his more recent, uniquely brilliant theater work. I think my favorite of Jeff's other books is The Size of the World, but for me Snake Lake falls into its own special category. I finished reading it five months ago, and even though I have read several other big fat books in the interim, I still vividly remember all of the book's complicated plot twists, full-blown characters, certainly the sex scenes and the nuances of the suicide scenario, and much more -- it's a book that sticks with you in a way that few others do. It gives an unvarnished peek into the world of international news reporters and photographers: the internal lives, the personal relationships, the dicey finances, the drudgery, the fleeting, out-of-one's-skin thrills, all the things that those of us who have never been a part of that world might be curious about. It also contains interesting meditations on Buddhism and on the phenomenon of splitting one's life and psyche between two locales (in this case Nepal and the San Francisco Bay Area). And, importantly, I remember having to put the book down several times to purge myself with belly laughter. I found Snake Lake fully satisfying in every sense, decidedly intimate (you come to KNOW each of the characters, warts and all), obviously a labor of intense love -- many intense loves, in fact. It feels like a bonus gift, a thank you, from Jeff to all of us who have loved him and his glowing body of work over the years.
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