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Building My Zen Garden Hardcover – November 10, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
This riotous narrative recounts how a middle-aged Irish Canadian transformed a weedy area of his backyard into a peaceful Zen garden, and how he struggled to tame his Western character along the way. Inspired by the miniature garden a friend built on her apartment balcony in Japan, Egan "set out in a rather indirect and rambling way to make a paradise" back home in Vancouver. With wry humor he details his efforts to outwit weeds "of supernatural and malevolent cunning" and to hack through primordial tangles of bindweed using his favorite new tool: the mattock. Reality lags behind dreams as Egan struggles to lay tons of stone, copes with a sagging new fence and conquers his timidity before the "real people" in the gardening business. (He quickly realizes, "It is hard for the middle-class type to get lumberyard chic just right.") Do-it-yourselfers will identity with Egan's anguish as he no sooner clears an area of unwanted vegetation than it creeps back, even stronger, in new spots. Even the water in his pool finds unwanted channels and outlets. Ultimately, however, his Japanese quince lives, the bamboo thrives and the water falls gracefully into the pond rather than thudding down in torrents. Egan admits that a few clever-fingered Japanese experts might have converted his garden far more efficiently than his "ham-fisted" self, but then readers, especially male garden-types, would have been denied the pleasure of this humorous and informative memoir. Many b&w photos mark milestones in the transformation that is a "mixture of Eastern Zen and Western irony." (Nov. 10)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
In his first foray into the world of garden writing, Egan (education, Simon Fraser Univ., BC; The Educated Mind) endeavors to teach readers the principles that inform the design and meaning of Zen gardens through this personal account of building his own garden in Vancouver, Canada. Unfortunately, he does not quite achieve his goal. The narrative is an amusing and heartfelt chronicle of his Zen garden adventure with a desultory sprinkling of observations about the "Zen" principles that guided his work. Egan makes only passing references to unnamed Japanese garden books and web sites he consulted for his project, though readers interested in creating Japanese gardens themselves would have found a specific list of these resources useful. An optional supplement to more standard works on Japanese garden design.ABrian Lym, City Coll. of San Francisco Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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