Building My Zen Garden

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000 - Gardening - 258 pages
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Kieran Egan had a fantasy. Inspired by a visit to a friend’s miniature Zen garden on a balcony in Nagoya, he returned home determined to build his own Japanese garden. Like many men his age, with kids grown up and moved away, he was ready to tackle something new — and tackle was the right word. Even before he began, he had to spend days hacking at the overgrown thicket where his garden would be. At night, dreaming of roots with nothing to do but grow, he thought less about Zen masters than about Dorothy Parker, who observed, “Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.” In spite of the running conflict between Zen philosophy and his own rather slapdash methods, he succeeded in creating “a treat for the eye and spirit.” Like Michael Pollan’s A PLACE OF MY OWN, BUILDING MY ZEN GARDEN will appeal to men, and to women as a gift for men. In these prosperous times, when men of the baby-boom generation are often looking for something new, building a Zen garden could very well be it — even if, after reading and laughing at the author’s adventures, they never build one themselves.

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Building my Zen garden

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In his first foray into the world of garden writing, Egan (education, Simon Fraser Univ., BC; The Educated Mind) endeavors to teach readers the principles that inform the design and meaning of Zen ... Read full review


3t Introduction
one The fence the quince and the black bamboo
two Building the pond
seven Framing the teahousestudy
eight Inhabiting the teahousestudy

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About the author (2000)

Kieran Egan, originally from Clonmel, Ireland, has published sixteen academic books. He holds two Ph.D.s in education, from Stanford & Cornell. He is a professor at Simon Fraser University & lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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