Any Guru Will Do
by Phil Brown (Paper B Format)
||Social & Political Issues
||September 25th, 2006
Phil Brown's life has been one long existential crisis. His path to enlightenment has been uphill - think of climbing Everest with a colonic irrigation or two along the way.
After trying doggedly to discover God through poetry, Phil dips his toes into a variety of experiences, including a doomed 'holiday' at a health farm - which he runs away from - mail-order Catholicism, a ritual Egyptian dance workshop, analysis, psychic surgery and an ill-fated group-therapy session.
With a cast of curious characters including the saffron-turbaned Dadaji, the poet Les Murray and the priest who stopped taking his calls - not to mention Phil himself - this hilarious book will have you doubled up with laughter.
Settle yourself into the lotus position, grab a cup of peppermint tea and enjoy the ride.
LIFE, the universe, and everything; what's it all about? On a never-ending quest for cosmic meaning Brisbane writer, Phil Brown, has been asking this question his whole life.
Poetry, Catholicism, meditation, health farms, psychiatry; Brown has done it all, and it's now all down for record in his latest book, Any Guru Will Do.
Of course, Brown is not the first writer to battle with the really big questions of existence, but he's one of the few to do it in settings such as Toowoomba and Rockhampton. And it's these familiar locations that, in part, give the book its warmth and humour.
In the chapter "What A Bummer", Brown submits to a colonic irrigation. He writes; "I was in a shabby little room in Mermaid Beach, next door to a brothel, having my bowel sucked dry by a guy who sounded like an extra on Hogan's Hero's." And while we laugh at the situations Brown places himself in, there is, beneath the deceivingly simple and laugh-out loud prose, a writer deeply concerned with spiritualism in a cynical modern world.
Loosely charting the chronology of his life, each chapter highlights another quest. We see Brown convert to Catholicism, experience genuinely freaky encounters with Gold Coast evangelical Christians, discover meditation in Rocky, and almost starve himself to death at a dodgy health retreat.
Funny, thought provoking and eminently readable, Any Guru Will Do is a charming piece of literary enlightenment.