Tag Archives: mythology

Lost Kings By Canadian Writer Paul Vitols Is A Powerful, Multi-Layered Short Story About A Journey Cut-Short, But Points The Way To A Much Deeper Kind Of Exploration


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

I’m tempted to categorize this short story under the tradition of what I’ll call “road trip enlightenment literature.” Think of Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road, Robert Pirsig‘s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Peter JenkinsA Walk Across America, or maybe Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley.

But, you know, stories about journeys involving characters who confront extraordinary situations and grow (or falter) in the process has been “a thing” since The Odyssey, the second-oldest extant work of Western literature, most likely created in the 8th Century B.C.

Whatever the case, I hasten to add that LOST KINGS by author PAUL VITOLS manages to transcend genre or category and say something unique. This work doesn’t read or feel derivative — it’s more like a creatively fresh iteration of the hero’s journey archetype.

The reader will be immediately drawn into a vivid world inhabited by two young vagabonds, John Pulkis and Stephen Eckert. They’re two guys from Canada who are on a mission to travel around the globe so that they can experience an epic, life-altering adventure before going to college and getting bogged down in “real life.”

Paul Vitols

Travelling across Europe, the young men reach a major mission malfunction in Italy — they basically run out of cash. Things haven’t worked out like they planned and it looks like they’ll have to scrap their grand plan to circle the globe on a wing and a prayer. Savage disappointment, the death of a dream and the humiliation of failure triggers a kind of spiritual crisis for 20-year-old John Pulkis

It’s interesting to note that his traveling pal, Stephen Eckert, while also disappointed, appears to remain anchored in the daily practicalities of material reality. He fills their van with gas, makes lunch, cleans the refrigerator, does the driving — while Pulkis is thrust into a more extoic introspective journey of mind and experience. He enters an agitated state of self questioning and doubt, but also confronts a marvelous expansion or transcendence of his ego-based consciousness — and yet this experience is cruelly truncated. That precipitates an “agony of the Self” that is now more unbearable than before.

I don’t want to give away any more because I’m eager for readers to discover this wonderful, deeply redolent, nuanced piece of literature for themselves.

Paul Vitols manages to enfold layers of meaning into a short work characterized by striking description of place and landscape, a decent plot to challenge animated characters and a theme that is multifaceted — on this latter issue I would suggest (with some trepidation) an overarching motif that features what I’ll call the “passion of the Western mind” colliding with the “enlightenment of the Eastern psyche.” But that’s just one aspect.

While my original comparison was to “journey of discovery” kinds of writing, I would also say this short story also brought forward for many other correlations (for me, anyway) that would be just as apt, specifically, Herman Hesse’s Demian and Siddhartha — and especially George Orwell’s Down and Out In Paris and London — the chapter where Orwell takes a job at French hotel as a “plongeur,” a French slang term for “dishwasher.”

I haven’t even mentioned the huge significance of one of the character’s struggle with Sir James Frazer’s massive volume, The Golden Bough — but there I go again, telling too much! I urge you to discover this A-List piece of literature for yourself and enjoy its many layers.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Paul Vitols is perhaps best known as the co-creator and screenwriter for a popular CBC television series, THE ODYSSEY, a fantasy-adventure featuring children. The show ran for three seasons from 1992 to 1995 and achieved international distribution and acclaim, including a run on the Sci-Fi Channel in the U.S.

The Paul Vitols Website has a lot of interesting stuff, and links to more of his books. You can find it HERE

You can check out his Patreon site HERE

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss is a rich, extraordinary journey through the multiverse

robert-mossReview By KEN KORCZAK

The title of this book may lead some to believe that it’s mostly about the NDE, or near death experience. But the author’s experience with “dying and coming back” at age nine seems a brief anecdote against a backdrop of an entire lifetime of extraordinary experiences.

This is a book far more about dreaming than the NDE, and using the dreaming experience as a launching pad for an intense exploration of the universe, or more accurately, the transphsyical universe and “multiverse.” The subtitle says this book is also about a tantalizing something called “dream archaeology.”

Not to say that the author’s NDE account isn’t fascinating. It’s one of the most unique you will read about even if you have already read hundreds of others, like I have. I suspect that ROBERT MOSS is a guy who can’t be defined by a single event, or just one kind of experience, no matter how mind blowing.

Moss could aptly be described a 21st Century shaman — in a way that combines the most ancient definition of the term with that of a modern man and scholar who is a lifetime student of history, ethnography and mythology.

A former history professor and journalist, Robert Moss began his literary career writing international spy thriller novels. His first big success, “Moscow Rules” landed on the New York Times Best Seller list, stayed there for weeks, making Moss wealthy and a hot commodity among publishers.

He could have continued to rake in the big cash as a Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth kind of writer — but he soon succumbed to his true nature, that of a shamanic dreamer and explorer of consciousness.

He went over to writing books that were either about dreaming or dovetailed with dreaming, such as his historical novel, The Firekeeper, which he wrote after experiencing a kind of psychic and/or dream contact with Sir William Johnson, a major figure in the French and Indian War of 1754-1763.

Moss combined direct dream contact and a psychic connection with intensive field research to create a powerful historic novel which was praised by the likes of literary giant James A. Michener.

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Robert Moss

william-blake-pic

William Blake

This book, THE BOY WHO DIED AND CAME BACK TO LIFE,  is somewhat autobiographical in that Moss makes use of key events in his life, beginning with his NDE at age 9, to describe how turning one’s mind away from mere material perceptions and toward the wider spectrum of consciousness can result in marvelous, breath-taking adventures.

Moss uses the term “dream archaeology” to describe a method researching our past that involves accessing ancient times and the actual minds and souls of long-dead people so that we an learn from them directly — it’s a way to go beyond mere historical facts to uncover the broad, psycho-social, spiritual and — well, I guess the larger cosmic context of historic events.

It’s an amazing book. It’s too rich in scope and detail for one short review to encompass here, so I won’t try. I’ll just say that this work gets my top recommendation — it’s a rich feast providing not only food for thought, but a veritable banquet for thought. Moss is an elegant writer who commands a silky flowing prose which often borders on poetic, yet remains clear and accessible for any reader.

One last thing: My theory is that Robert Moss is the reincarnation of the 18th Century English painter, poet and print maker William Blake. If you don’t believe me, read up on Blake, study his work and visions, and also Google a picture of Blake. Compare Blake’s images side to side with that of Robert Moss. They even look alike.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

Follow @KenKorczak