Dropping the Chase: The Enigmas of the Goddess


32 pages
Contains Maps
ISBN 1-55022-257-0
DDC C813'.54






Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an associate editor of the Canadian Book Review


For a seven-week period in 1991, Paul Davies and a group of fellow
travelers journeyed through south-central Tibet. That trek was the
inspiration for these stories, which are presented as annotations to the
13 enigmas of the goddess contained in the Book of Leacan, written in
10th-century Ireland. The stories seamlessly blend historical commentary
with vivid evocations of the sights and smells of present-day Tibet, to
which the enigmas serve as gloss. Davies captures in a few chilling
details the Chinese presence today. Persistent images of ruins are
poignant reminders of the devastation wrought by the 1950 Communist
invasion—an invasion that brings irresistibly to mind the author’s
definition of the title metaphor (dropping the chase) as “things
suddenly falling into horrible disarray.” Though unforgiving of the
Chinese “destruction of Tibetan culture,” Davies neither glorifies
or sentimentalizes the Tibetan Buddhists.

As a travel memoir, this beautifully produced book abounds with dry,
amiable humor. Particularly memorable are Davies’s encounters with an
incensed yak and with the shocks and surprises of Tibetan cuisine. The
author of Oblique Litanies, The Wreck of the Apollo, and Exactly 12ў
and Other Convictions has in these elegant marvels of concision proven
once again that less is more.


Davies, Paul., “Dropping the Chase: The Enigmas of the Goddess,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1067.