On The Primitive Way: Two Texan Brothers Journey to Santiago de Compostela
by Landon Roussel
As a Camino enthusiast, I have read a few books about the historic pilgrimage, but this one was different. Not only does Dr. Roussel show what the less-traveled Camino Primitivo route is like, but he also tells a personal story of his brother who had a lifelong struggle with addiction. After his brother had been released from prison, the two of them walked the Camino together. The narrative shifts between two timelines—the present experience on the Camino, and memories of his brother, some of which were painful. Dr. Roussel is a skilled storyteller, so he manages to pull it off without the reader getting lost in the two worlds. The transitions were easy to follow and it succeeded in being a real page-turner! Paperback and Kindle versions available on Amazon.com.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone interested in the Camino. It will also be of interest for those who know someone struggling with addiction. Landon Roussel did a brave thing by openly writing about addiction, a subject that is usually kept locked away in a vault of family secrets. His Camino was more than just a long walk in Spain with his brother. There is an important lesson here. Bravo!
Dr. Roussel was interviewed by Dave Whitson of the Camino Podcast, a great new resource for pilgrims. Click to listen to his interview on Episode 6 of Camino Podcast.
His story was also featured in the latest American Pilgrims on the Camino newsletter, La Concha, December 2015 (pdf).
Landon’s bio from the bookmark pictured above:
Landon Roussel is a three-time pilgrim on the Way of St. James. After the death of his younger brother Cory in October 2014, he was inspired to write On the Primitive Way, chronicling his experience on the Way as well as his relationship with his brother. In addition to On the Primitive Way, he has written articles for Peregrino magazine and American Pilgrims on the Camino newsletter. When he is not walking on the Way or writing, he is a primary care doctor and father of two. He and his wife reside in St. James Parish, Louisiana with their children.
UPDATE (Feb.7, 2016): Landon Roussel has been in the press. See these articles:
- “Choosing the right way,” which appeared in the Rice Thresher, describes how balancing the need for self-expression and creativity in a technical career has motivated him to keep writing.
- “Out of grief, a new appreciation,” in the Baton Rouge Advocate, describes how the experience of grief encouraged him to write with a new enthusiasm.
- “Family Pilgrimages and Primitive Ways: An Interview with Landon Roussel” just appeared in the Harvard Crimson, in which he discusses not only their pilgrimage, but also how writing while being a doctor has been a challenge which, though intense at times, has been well worth the sacrifice.