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June 06 , 2011

Beat Zen and the Art of Dave


For some of us travel is a vice for anonymity and escape to punctuate breakups, career changes, midlife crises and retirement. For other overland journeys reveal deeper impulses of personal transformation – with people acquainting themselves with Eastern practises and mystical traditions of original peoples to find answers to happiness and harmony and bear light onto the ultimate mystery and sufferance of it all. Once again offering his distinctly ruminative and personal account of the wanderlust filled world of international budget backpacking, Beat Zen and the Art of Dave consolidates McNamara’s unique voice in the stereotypic genre of travel writing by. 

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Beat Zen and the Art of Dave is the playful and referentially titled follow up to McNamara’s first travel memoir, Loves, Kerbsides and Goodbyes. As the title suggests, Beat Zen and the Art of Dave draws upon a privileged insight spanning a decade and a half to expound on the shifting ideals and motivations behind the ever expanding popularity of shoestring travelling. The book examines McNamara’s incurable desire for travel by winding past recollections dating back to his inaugural backpacking adventure in 1998, with trips as recent as last year to reveal deeper impulses of anonymity, escape, independence and personal transformation.By comparing the attitudes and impulses of the aging Lonely Planet generation to the new iBackpackers, he exposes the darker side of wanderlust through the delusions, fallacies and inherent detachment ignored by travellers, but which accompany any obsession. McNamara credits the ancient connection between travel and spirituality and lays a foundation of various mystical and unorthodox philosophies to address the current climate of spiritual curiosity in our digital world.As more and more people return to Eastern practises and mystical traditions of original peoples to find answers to happiness and harmony Beat Zen and the Art of Dave discusses the conundrum of travellers seeking enlightenment in the less familiar when mobile technology keeps us tethered to all that we left behind.

Finally, McNamara returns to his signature preoccupation with goodbyes to confront the sacrifices of his own itinerant lifestyle, and the uncertain end to his first committed relationship as his girlfriend looks to embark on her own travels upon graduating university. At its essence Beat Zen and the Art of Dave is mediation on the modern vagrant and wayfaring lifestyle. And with broad appeal and candour it elucidates the perils and rewards of self exploration and discovery often ignored in everyday life, but which find a home in the dislocation of time, distance and freedom of the open road.

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