Friday, April 20, 2012

Beginning ~ in a yellow kayak

Kayaking on the Mo Chhu rapids in Bhutan.
Yellow kayak on the Mo Chhu in Bhatan.
Punakha Valley, Bhutan
"The next one will be the most dangerous."

Most dangerous?  Grant Matthews spat out the remnants of the Himalayan river water he'd just inhaled on the last rapid, a Class IV.

"You good?" Dasho, his Bhutanese guide, called to him in accented English.

"Just need to catch my breath."

The current slowed as the Mo Chhu, the Mother River, widened.  Grant balanced his paddle on top of the neoprene spray skirt that kept the icy water from entering his kayak and shook out his arms.  He needed to stretch his legs too; the yellow boat barely accommodated his six-foot-two frame.

Dasho approached him with powerful strokes.  "Monsoon season just passed.  Chhu very fast now."

Grant pushed his helmet back, brushed his wet hair out of his eyes, and studied the guide's tanned face, his wide cheekbones.  "So, how does a Buddhist monk become a river guide."
That's from The Breath of God: A Novel of Suspense by Jeffrey Small, 2011.  Here's a synopsis of this thriller:
A murder at the Taj Mahal.  A kidnapping in a sacred city.  A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery.  All in the pursuit of a legend that could link together the great religious faiths of the world.  In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed.  His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.  Now, Grant Matthews, an Emory scholar, journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery.  But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public.  Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion.  A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth.  A truth that will change his life forever — if he survives.

Jeffrey Small signing my copy of his novel
Yesterday evening, I went to hear Jeffrey Small, the author of this novel and an academic book on God as the Ground of Being: Tillich and Buddhism in Dialogue.  His he showed us this trailer for his novel (which you can also watch on his website), but his subject was "East Meets West: What Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism Can Learn from Each Other."  The Breath of God is his first novel, and I can see from skimming the chapter headings that it will take us to at least three countries (Bhutan, India, and the United States) and four states within the USA (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Connecticut).

These photos show other stretches of the Chhu river in Bhutan, where we meet the protagonist (Grant Matthews) at the beginning of the novel.  Having just bought the book, I had no idea it started in a kayak, so I missed my chance to ask the author if he himself kayaked that river.  And now you'll have to pardon me while I curl up with my book and see what happens next.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click here for today's Mister Linky.

1 comment:

Helen's Book Blog said...

What an intriguing beginning! It sounds like this novel is multi layered. I don't have a Book Beginnings this week as I haven't read anything in about 10 days. It's all very strange. I have been busy, but no book is catching my attention either. Perhaps this weekend...