Fresh Wind & Strange Fire is all about unrestrained lust for life and absolute rejection of mere eking out a living while chained to a desk, willfully blind to the wild beauty out there. As author Lyn Fuchs puts it, "If art is the pursuit of beauty then I am a slobbery hunting dog in heated artistic pursuit."
I've been a fan of Lyn's since his first book, Sacred Ground and Holy Water. I dove into this review copy anticipating the same mad rush of adrenaline that accompanied me the first time. To me, however, this book seems a lot more philosophical.
Don't get me wrong, the crazy adventures involving Mafia Dons and trundling down impossible roads are very much part of the experience, yet it still seems like a grown-up version of the man who wrote that first book.
In this book, along with the vivid descriptions and honest words that are so characteristic of Lyn's writing, there are also phrases like these: "The liberated spirit that comes from carrying all life's essential possessions on one's back." "Humans are constantly accumulating stuff to feel secure and shedding stuff to feel free."
In Fresh Wind & Strange Fire, the intellectual mixes with the traveler while still remaining charmingly down-to-earth. The book might be about high places and lofty thoughts, but it is never pedantic or patronizing.
Climbing Pico de Orizaba becomes a spiritual experience for Lyn. "When I see how hard many people struggle," he writes, "it's almost a relief that the heavens don't jump to my privileged demands."
While the book is about his travels through Mexico, it's also a journey of self-discovery, though it doesn't scream that at the beginning. It is all about choosing the journey, he says, "not stumbling into it." With references to new starts and descriptions of a Shamanic cleansing, we are left wondering why he seems to be attempting to change his skin, while we like him fine just the way he is.
Apart from his spiritually-tinged adventures, the book makes a strong case for legal immigration and proffers a stomach churning account of the slavery that existed in the region, now transformed to a traveler's paradise. It's unusual for a travel book to be this honest and it adds to the book's character. Fresh Wind & Strange Fire is also good reading for the foodie with food descriptions peppered liberally across the pages.
Lyn has always written with a strong male perspective, but it is lines like this, written while parting from a widowed friend, that will endear him to female readers as well. "In the real world I've met more superheroes wearing aprons than capes."
All in all, the book is a philosophical adventure through the realm of the Maya that will make you smile, wince and introspect. A definite winner as far as the genres of both spiritual literature and travel nonfiction are concerned."