Monday, October 25, 2010
The Great Oom: Book Review
Well...unsurprisingly (since the exact same thing happened last time I tried to start a book club) the first book I picked for a group of people to read turned out to be a dud of a book. When I saw this book at the library and read the tag line of the title "The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America" - I assumed - wrongly, that this book was about yoga. Welllllllllll...it's not. It's actually about this dude - The Great Oom, who went by Pierre Bernard. It's a biography and it spends more time talking about the Vanderbilts and Pierre Bernard's groupies than it does yoga. The book mentions the occasional headstand and gets into the rumors of the groups (who called themselves the Tantriks) wild orgies and secret doings. There are some interesting aspects to the book - it's one of the those "self made man" stories that makes you feel like if only you were more motivated you could make things happen. It IS interesting to see how he swindles millionaires out of their money and builds himself an empire of cars and property and circus animals and pretty girls. Also the stories about Bernard being able to control his breath to the point where he could "put himself under" and literally have a needle passed through his cheek and tongue without the least amount of pain. What wasn't interesting...most of the book. A lot of the book seems to revolve around who was interested in who, who gets married to who, what kind of scandals the group was involved in or reputed to be involved in. So on a scale of enjoy to hate - what did I think of this book? I stopped reading after more than 200 pages. I invested myself into 3/4ths (!!) of the book and yet still decided to put it down. I got bored. Towards the end there were only sparse mentions of yoga - most of the talk centered on parties and circuses. I skipped to the last chapter hoping to read some revelatory last few pages about how he went on to found some incredibly well known yoga group that defined modern yoga as we American's know it. The last chapter is entitled: Family Man. I gave up and moved on. Sorry group - I should have done a little more research before suggesting this book.
This next book SHOULD be more of a success - it has been getting rave reviews and to at least two of the "group", it's a topic we can show some enthusiasm for. The next book I would like to propose to read and discuss is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer - who also wrote Everything is Illuminated.