In medieval times, religious pilgrimage gave the average Joe his only excuse to get away from the claustrophobia of village life. For Gideon Lewis Kraus, it promises a different kind of escape. Determined to avoid the fear and self-sacrifice that kept his father, a gay rabbi, closeted until midlife, he has spent his twenties chasing a life that might preempt later regret. But in the antigravity chamber of anything goes Berlin, the surfeit of freedom has become paralyzing. When, over drunken weekend, a friend extends an invitation to join him on an ancient pilgrimage route across Spain, Lewis-Kraus packs his bag, grateful for the chance to wake each morning with a literal, if arbitrary sense of direction. Irreverent, moving, hilarious, and thought-provoking, A Sense of Direction is Lewis-Kraus's dazzling riff on the perpetual war between discipline and desire, and its attendant casualties. In this digressively brilliant account, Lewis-Kraus completes an idiosyncratic journey to the heart of a family mystery, and a human dilemma: How do we come to terms with what has been and what is, and find a way forward, with purpose?
Marco Roth studied comparative literature at Columbia and Yale, and is a founding editor of the magazine, n+1. Roth’s memoir, The Scientists: A Family Memoir, is forthcoming from FSG in September this year.
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