Book // Reviews
In this wonderful story of fathers and sons, Tim poises two fundamental and related questions. Why are people drawn to climb the formidable summits of the world, and what is it about the experience that inevitably results in a catharsis of the soul, an opening of the spirit, a softening of the heart? To answer both questions he travels with Josh to the flanks of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest and most illustrious mountain, a beacon of light rising over an entire continent.
Tim Ward walks up the mountain with his 20-year-old son, and together they explore the power of stories. Amid hallucinogenic walks, bizarre gastronomy, and sing song Tanzanian guides, they illuminate the power and the delusion of the stories we often tell ourselves, and how in letting old stories go, we can find the key to transforming our world.
As with all of Ward’s books, it’s challenging, exhilarating, brave and profoundly human – I came away from it feeling stimulated, enriched, and also genuinely honoured that an author would take me on such an intensely personal journey. The father-son relationship comes leaping off the page, and the intellectual dimension sizzles and crackles.
In Zombies on Kilimanjaro, Tim Ward weaves a healing tale for contemporary men. Part adventure travelogue, part intellectual exploration, part courageous personal revelation, Ward’s memoir of climbing the African mountain with his 20-year-old son captivates the reader on multi-levels. Zombies tackles the treacherous terrain of fatherhood, philandering, divorce and shadow as Ward demonstrates the healing power of the story well-told. At a time when our culture desperately needs a new definition of the positive masculine, Ward steps up to the plate. Women will also be heartened by his journey on a rugged path that ultimately leads to personal responsibility and adult relationships. I loved it! Its a perfect example of redefining the positive masculine. So honest! So open and vulnerable! So brave! So needed by all the lost men of today. I hope this spawns a whole literary (and other cultural memes) movement.
My overall impression was one of admiration and enjoyment. I believe you are a father in the truest sense of the word – one who can stumble, try again, err, admit the truth, release and move on. In reality, you are a great dad to Josh, but more importantly you are a great friend to him. Your courage on the physical level was inspiring but your bravery on the emotional level was profoundly moving. You brought us into your family’s life and memes, with grace and humility. I was engaged throughout most of the book by your humour and honesty. When you told Josh that he wasn’t really him (although it was scary for him) I couldn’t stop laughing. The crazy things we parents do! And your scene from a “demented African version of The Sound of Music” was hilarious!
Which is harder: climbing the highest freestanding mountain in the world or becoming friends with your adult son from a divorced marriage? In this eight-day tale of courage, conversation, and compassion, Tim Ward does both. His story sounds a rousing call to take responsibility for the natural and social worlds that our children are inheriting from us.