Book Review: This All Encompassing Trip, by Jason Leung

by John Reynolds on November 22, 2010

This All Encompassing Trip
This All Encompassing Trip
by Jason Leung
Only $19.99 US on

I’ve never written a book review before. That’s OK, though, because Jason Leung, the author of This All Encompassing Trip, has never written a book before.

Pearl Jam books have been few and far between. There have certainly been a lot of picture books – Pearl Jam: Place/Date, 5X1 Pearl Jam Through the Eye of Lance Mercer, and Pearl Jam Vs. Ames Bros – but not a lot with words.  In the chapter-book department, you’ve got our own Jessica Letkemann’s 1990: The Making of Pearl Jam and Kim Neely’s very biased unauthorized 1998 book Five against One.

This All Encompassing Trip must be the next addition to your paperback library.

Through Infinitum Publishing, Vancouver native Jason Leung has recently published his memoirs of the incredible sequence of events that started with a cross-country Canada tour in 2005 following Pearl Jam, and resulted in a world travel experience that brought him friendship, love and plenty of adventure.

Traveling mostly by van, train, and bus, the long treks afforded Jason plenty of time to keep a detailed journal, and a series of video cameras helped document all the sober and not-so-sober road shenanigans. The journal yielded the book, and the video footage also resulted in the freely distributed Touring Van DVD.

Fans plus travel plus Pearl Jam concerts seems like a simple formula – almost makes you wonder what could possibly surprise you in a book like this. But because of Pearl Jam’s reputation as a great live act, Jason is able to translate the essence of the whole experience.

Do these scenarios sound familiar? Friendships are made between those whose “other friends don’t like Pearl Jam”.  Often ticket-less, Jason – along with co-founders Stefan and Tak – travel to show after show finding last-minute (and usually great) tickets through trades, the box office, and a number of kind offerings.  Also encountered are the many concert traditions of pre- and post-concert fanbases from Canada, The U.S., Europe and Australia.

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to travel in a crowded van without ever trying it? Now, you don’t have to wonder. Jason recounts in glorious detail the environment of driving for hours and hours, how to stay occupied, and how to avoid strangling your van-mates in the process. Along the way, he also describes encounters with locals, kind mechanics and even famous photographers and band members, wink wink.

The result is a book almost as long and winding as the journey itself. While its only fault might be that its level of detail could sail over the head of the non- or casual Pearl Jam fan, impassioned Pearl Jam fans will soak in every detail. For those who will never get a chance to travel with the band, Jason’s book will allow them to vicariously feel like his co-pilot. For those who were thinking about traveling for future tours, you now have a roadmap for success, and proof that a small window of opportunity can lead to an incredible life experience.

Book Trailer for This All Encompassing Trip from Jason Leung on Vimeo.

A Few Minutes with Jason

JR: A prominent theme in your book is “fate”. Can you truly comprehend the course of events that unfolded during your journey? From start to finish, tour-to-tour, city-to-city, even from morning-to-night, everything was connected. For instance, if their tour was Australia, then Europe, then U.S., then Canada, you might have had a much shorter book.

Jason: No doubt. It’s pretty incredible to look back and see how favorable the outcome was for nearly every event that occurred no matter where I was in the world and who I was with. And, as you read, a lot happened on that tour, but everything just seemed to work out. I think this fate angle had a lot to do with the fact that the story was told from my own personal point of view and how I saw events occur, which was certainly influenced by my positive outlook and attitude. This mindset probably further developed as I met more and more amazing people throughout the trip. I totally believe in the whole karma thing and good karma was definitely behind me the entire way.

JR: One thing I didn’t expect when I started reading the book was the love story involved. Your recaps of shows, video conversations and your journaled notes were probably easy to write. But was it tough to write about the love story since those were solely your thoughts?

Jason: Yes and no. During the tour I made sure to put details of events down on paper as they occurred. But when they became more personal, this journal became more of a diary and it was recording all my inner thoughts and emotions. At the time, it was a way for me to stay grounded and comprehend everything that was happening because there was so much going on. So the diary was a very good source to draw details from for the romance angle. Writing about it with the rest of the events in the book was not difficult because there hasn’t been any emotional attachment to it for a while. It was tough to do only because it was exposing my personal feelings and affections from the past. Obviously, I have more than moved on since, so it was not easy trying to recreate those emotions in the story and make it sound as real as it was at the time. But it is something I definitely wanted to include in the book because it was a very important part of the story and it allows the reader to relate to my character more. Isn’t that what great writers do? Besides, the real love story happens in the epilogue, which ties in with the fate question you asked previously.

JR: After writing about the great food in all these regions of the world, was it a struggle to continually find alternate synonyms for “delicious”?

Jason: Ha ha! My trusty thesaurus bailed me out time after time on that one. Trying out new foods from different places is one of the best reasons to travel. Every place has their “it” food and poutine in Montreal was the best of the “its”. Maybe the next book can be about traveling for foods around the world.

JR: 20 Years ago, friends in other countries were called “pen pals”. By traveling throughout Canada and other countries, you’ve now built up a global network of friends that you can now continue to stay in touch with via Facebook, etc. It’s an amazing way to stay in touch, isn’t it? Grateful Dead fans must be jealous, huh?

Jason: Funny you should mention social networks because it was evolving as these tours were happening. MySpace was gaining momentum during the Canadian and US tour. When we got to Europe, Facebook had just opened to the public and, by the end of the Australian tour, everyone had more or less switched over and the Facebook era was beginning. It has certainly made connecting and staying in touch with people you only meet for a short period of time much more accessible. This technology is probably what has set Pearl Jam fans apart from Grateful Dead fans. I think we are definitely a closer group and we know more about each other because we are so easily able to stay in contact and meet up on tour as well as outside of a tour. This huge network of fans developed so quickly that it has lead to some powerful contributions from it, such as the Wishlist Foundation. At the same time, I’m not sure Deadheads would have enjoyed the lack of privacy involved with all the drugs that were going around back then.

JR: When a 2011 tour gets announced, how long does it take you to say “YES!”?

Jason: I’m saying YES now even before it gets announced. But of course it won’t be nearly as extensive as the 2006 tour. I’ve been content on doing only a couple of shows per year lately and I don’t see that changing. Even the band prefers to do less shows now, as they haven’t really done a proper world tour since. And because of the strong friendships that I’ve made with other fans, I can visit these friends outside of a tour and it’s just as enjoyable. I really don’t think I can endure that amount of continuous travel again. But who knows, right? There’s always a possibility for a sequel to the book.

Go Get It!

Jason’s book, This All Encompassing Trip, is available for $19.99 US on Generously, a portion of all sales goes to benefit The Wishlist Foundation.

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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