Genre: Philosophical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Viking
My rating: *****
This is a slim volume. I wondered about the genre in which the book should fall, and eventually settled on Philosophical Fiction.
The story is simple. An archer arrives in a village looking for the house of master archer Tetsuya. The villagers are surprised as they only know of Tetsuya, the carpenter. A young boy guides the archer to the carpenter, where the city man demonstrates his skill by piercing an apple. He then asks Tetsuya to demonstrate his skills. Hesitant, Tetsuya unfolds his bow lying in a corner of the room, wrapped in cloth, unused for many years. Tetsuya, the city archer, and the boy, come out of the village. Tetsuya proceeds to the centre of an old rope bridge, which continues to sway as the master takes aim, and shoots a leaf down. The city archer, humbled, returns for more practice.
The boy is amazed. On the way back, the boy asks the master to tell him about archery. The rest of the volume is devoted to each element of archery – the bow, the arrow, the target, the stance, the bowstring, the way to draw the string, the way to observe each element that will affect the arrow on its trajectory, the moment to release the arrow, and then release of tension once the arrow has left.
The story is not just about archery. It is true of any activity in life. The important thing is that one must follow one’s passion, respecting each element. One must do the bidding of one’s heart, just like Tetsuya’s follows his passion – carpentry.
It is an amazing book – one of those books which will remain with me, in whatever I do, till the end.
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