Shen Ku

Review - By Dave Zeiger - Alaska -

Shen Ku is currently available through (don’t be afraid... scroll on down).

We've all played the Desert Island Game. You know; the one where you try to pick the partner, food, DVD, etc. that you'd choose for company when stranded (it speaks volumes if you picked John Goodman for all three).

In The Art of Shen Ku by 'Zeek', we have a contender for the title in the book category. You can tell a lot about this book by the cover. The humor is sophmoric, the artwork is that of a person whose primary activity in highschool was astral projection, tenatively anchored by doodles.

Sword and sails, Chinese calligraphy of dubious provenance, bells and belted planets all speak of the enthusiasm and romanticism of youth.

In other words, I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

And then, I opened it... FLIP: Choosing the sex of my baby in intimate (and I mean intimate detail). FLIP, FLIP: Condensation techniques for collecting water in a survival situation (workable and some new to me, despite considerable survival training). FLIP: How to deal with bullies and bandits (action plan, good advice, sound effects). Nutrition, sailing basics, martial arts, dowsing, child control (complete with magic tricks and emergency jokes). Clothing with secret pockets, sexual advice, acupressure, CPR, palm tree climbing. And, omigosh... the totally awesome Granny's Fist!

The book is packed with info, the density of which is multiplied by combinatoric techniques, creatively indexed. It will be quite a while before you can open the book without being exposed to something new (FLIP: here's a method to keep doubled thread from twisting when handsewing (!) - knot the ends separately).

Shen Ku is broadly divided into sections for the Traveller, the Physician, the Sailor and the Martial Artist. We are accompanied by a cast of Rogues and Heroes of varying ages, who illustrate concepts and techniques through their various interactions.

While common sense wells from every page, what you find here isn't necessarily the TRUTH writ large - you may or may not buy into the Asian systems of diet which balance yin and yang foods - but it's damn sure stimulating! You will find yourself reexamining your diet; and, my friend, that is a good thing.

If you manage to find a correction or addition to what lies within, just Post-ItT onto the page. It won't be long until you find that several of the 'core books' of your onboard library have become obsolete, leaving room for more swashbuckling bodice-rippers (O Sabatini, thou Guilty Pleasure).

Zeek (it's a nom de plume, and I'm not going to 'out' him) is one of us, according to eLegend; a sailor who cruised the world in a home-built cutter. Behind all the fun lie years of experience, no doubt won at the expense of many's the hard knock.

Yet he's managed to keep that longing alive, alive-o, which once pulled our eyes through institutional windows to span the far horizon. That longing which made us draw endless sails, swelled with wind, pregnant with adventure.

This book trembles in anticipation, as if one were looking down the spout of a Djinn's enchanted lamp.

You'll find yourself looking up from its pages, disoriented by return to the mundane world bound 'round our eyes, yearning for lost Never-Neverland pounding in the veins. You'll feel the urge to focus your Ki, to take up the Sword, to fling a tarp about your shoulders and set sail upon seas strange and wonderful, clear-eyed amidst the Danger and the Beauty. And really, what's stopping us? Bring the kids! At the very least, buy this book!!

It's a start.

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