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Book Club 3.2, Fiction - Atlas of Places that Could or Should have Existed on the Camino de Santiago

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
ATLAS of Places that Could or Should have existed on the Camino de Santiago is the second of our Book Club fiction selections. The author, Jeffery Barrera, is a Camino guide and Forum member who characterizes ATLAS as "...fiction and fantasy; perhaps the two traits that have humanized best our species." David Tallan's Camino bibliography categorizes ATLAS as non-fiction, perhaps humanizing our quest for truth within fiction and seriousness within fantasy. Please post your reviews and comments on this book in this thread. ATLAS offers fertile prose from which to wish, dream and explore.
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
This looks like an interesting book, and a bit different. I have found it on Amazon but only as a paperback, and my library doesn't have it. I'm hoping someone has read it and can give a review to help me decide if I should order it.

@TrvlDad1 - Do you have the book?
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
Yes, I ordered it online in paperback. It was curious; I found myself researching places, people and events mentioned. Some were real, but the dots didn’t connect. But the Camino is mystical anyway, so who knows what might have been.
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I’m new to the book club but have finished this book. So what do I do? Give my opinion? Keep it vague or can I make references? I’d like to post a pic of table of contents for those deciding if they want it, is that OK?
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Ok I will start with my general opinion and do some specific examples separately although this is an atlas so I don’t think spoiler alerts really apply.

I’ll attach the table of contents with my symbols: T= in theory there to see. I’ve marked than once in 37 places. BT is barely there per the author, you may be standing in a field pretending you see some rocks. UW is under water. UC is under concrete meaning something built on top of it so other than knowing what may be down there you won’t see it. Airport is also essentially UC but I was bored walking around the airport so it would pass some time talking about the monastery that’s no longer there. Each of the four ?marks I’ll discuss separately for examples of what this book may or may not provide.

as someone already said, this makes you google a LOT trying to figure out if there’s something worth walking a few inches to 19 km off the path, or even if this is imaginary. The author mentions two books that inspired him and hints that unlike the one of fantasy places, his are probably real but shrouded in the mists of time like his second inspiration. I just wish he’d footnote on what he’s basing all these “No Longer Here” places: interviews with locals, ancient texts, bar talk? He’s translated a book of 15-17th century pilgrim stories so I hope at least some of his stories are based on that.

would I find this useful in planning a walk—minimally so and I’m a huge fan of detours to big balls of string. But he does give approximate lat long and a rough diagram of the location so it’s useful in that regard. There’s only one thing he mentions that I’d actually gone out of my way to try to find (unsuccessfully after many hours) when I walked: chap 6 Stone Circle near Pedrouzo—so I’m happy to hear him say it’s hard to find and the locals can’t help you…if I’d had this book with lat long maybe I’d have seen it. Or at least known I was there even if I didn’t see anything. But I’d probably jot down the stories in my notes so I could entertain others as we walked past areas where things no longer exist…and the history is fun. I’m going to keep trying to pin down some of his more interesting claims (see semi spoilers below). I may also buy the book of pilgrim stories he translated. But I don’t think I’m going to know any more definitively if these places are real, based on myth, or figments of an active imagination
A3EC5738-3B4B-4DAE-8B2E-3E1342CB42D4.jpeg D48758AF-A31D-4688-A3D8-D8FF502B396A.jpeg 62449D42-15FB-4D2B-BDDA-2FC5EE27B9D0.jpeg
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Spoiler sort of.




Chap 25 Hill Figures Sierra del Perdon. This is one I find really intriguing but haven’t been able to find anything on the internet yet. Per the author there are barely visible (essentially invisible) to naked eye giant drawing on the hillside. This may be totally true and I’d love to know more. What makes me wonder about being taken for a ride by a modern PT Barnum is his illustration attached. Admittedly he probably did this just to give an idea but his illustrations are of two chalk drawings in the UK and one of the Nazca hummingbird. If these actually exist I’d love to see them
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Semi spoiler chap 11 Juarros cave near atapuerca



atapuera is obviously real, and a visit there sounds worthwhile from what I’ve read online. This book glances over that and relates the story of this cave with fantastic drawings that give the history of the people then suddenly stops after what looks like either rain, arrows, or fire falling on everyone. He says this cave is 100 feet from the archeological site but the entrance is sealed and no one knows about it. Again, I’m a bit skeptical but still really want to know more.
A929F1D9-B810-42ED-9693-BD5FBFF7D091.jpeg Maybe someone who’s visited atapuerca can shed light, I didn’t walk this part of the CF (which BTW all but two chapters is the CF)
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Semi spoiler: chap 9 (cave of st Genadio ) and 14 (labyrinth of the Templar Castle).



He admits no one has found the labyrinth but gives the history many of us have read elsewhere…still it’s all in one place and he mentions who said it (unlike other of his stories) even if the source isn’t footnoted. I was in Ponferrada on what has to be its busiest Sunday (First Communion in all of the churches, city packed with families) so I didn’t even try to go into the castle. I might have, however if I knew about chap 9. The cave may be in ruins a fair distance away with nothing to see, but reportedly at one time housed a unicorn horn which was transferred to the castle for safekeeping. I might have gone in to look for that!
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Semi spoiler chap 33 ruins of Lanacia and legio near Leon.


I’m not going to tell the story he relates bc it’s actually the most interesting one in the book imo and enough to make me go looking for these ruins (before Leon, I didn’t walk that part). Haven’t found anything on the internet but searching

79F702AF-8917-4C2B-914E-3555E21D14EA.jpeg
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Semi spoiler Cap 34 Dragons cave on sacro pico and chap 18 chapel of St Sunniva near Cee



In theory you can’t get into the former (entrance no longer there) and the latter no longer exists, but the stories of each are cool and would be fun to relate to fellow walkers …and I think from researching the stories each would be a fun side trip: sacro pico for the climb and views, Sunniva for the unique waterfall.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I will also note (for those wondering about buying it) that each chapter consists of the page I’ve given examples of above, locating the site (approximately) and a sketch of what it would look like if still there, then usually a page and a half of history about it.
 

gns

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
First 2016
Latest Camino Frances Jul-Aug 2020
I enjoyed this one although after a week it is already fading from memory. The starting premise is interesting and some of the individual places are well done. It wasn't clear which ones were made up except for one or two instances where the description of something supposedly from early Iberia was clearly more the High Middle Ages.

I don't think the author really achieved what he set out to do but it is short and doesn't overstay its welcome. Overall a pleasing enough if light addition to books on the Camino.
 
Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).
A Quest of St. James, Tommy Ray, Book Cover, Image
Come follow the vivid imagery of this life-changing adventure.

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Thanks for that review. It sounds like an interesting approach by the author.

Through these reviews (this and others we've discussed), I am developing a bit of insight and sympathy into the challenges that a writer must overcome in order to carry off the excellent germ of an idea that they started with.
 

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