The Pilgrim


Non-Fiction - Autobiography
129 Pages
Reviewed on 12/29/2014
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Author Biography

Dennis Bieker was born in a small mid-western town in the early 1950’s.
Music and literature have always played an important role in his life.
Learning guitar at the age of twelve led to numerous stints with bands in the area.
After graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, Dennis worked for several music publishers in Nashville.
With music styles constantly changing, Dennis moved to a career in healthcare, where he currently holds a position with one of the largest healthcare companies in the United States.

Dennis has never lost his passion for music and is currently working on his latest collection of songs recorded in his home studio. To hear a sample of his recorded work, go to Noisetrade.com and type in the author’s name.
Dennis is also working on the sequel to his first novel, “The Pilgrim”.
The still untitled sequel will continue the story of Dennis’ journey

Dennis lives in Spring Hill, TN with his wife Sundee and their dog Little Girl.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Pilgrim is a coming of age memoir written by Dennis Bieker. Dennis was 17 in 1968, a time of turmoil and change. He was within that youthful age group that witnessed the political assassinations that destroyed a generation’s hopes and dreams, and he was at just the right age to be faced with the prospect of going to fight a war he didn’t believe in over in Vietnam. When his memoir begins, he had just graduated half a term early in the beginning of 1969, and he and his father set off on the first step to move from wintry Wisconsin to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dennis’ Uncle Sal had arranged construction jobs for the two of them and was putting them up in his rental condo. In six months, they’d return to Wisconsin for Dennis’ sister’s wedding and then the entire family would move down south. Along with the excitement of moving and getting a job were the pangs of the loss of his friends, the musical group he’d played with for so many years, and the places he knew growing up.

Dennis Bieker’s coming of age memoir, The Pilgrim, is the story of a generation that saw and lost so much. The spectre of an unending war loomed over children as they studied in high school, and the memory of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a wound that had not even begun to heal. Bieker’s chapter headings follow the times his character lives through; heady times that changed so rapidly and altered so dramatically, especially for one on the brink of leaving home to explore and pursue a dream of becoming a musical star. Bieker writes simply and lyrically, and I was quickly wrapped up in his character’s life and experiences. I loved reading about his trip down south and his first impressions of the construction site where he met and became friends with Reed, the elderly African-American worker. The party scenes also rang true, brimming with sexual tension mingled with nostalgia for something that was ending. The Pilgrim is a marvelous trip back into the past for those readers who found themselves in the Baby Boom generation, and I suspect those who weren’t might find themselves gazing wistfully at the sense of promise and adventure hinted at in this memoir. The Pilgrim is most highly recommended.

Heather Osborne

The Pilgrim by Dennis Bieker is a coming-of-age, autobiographical book about a young man, Dennis, during the late 1960s. Dennis and his father leave Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for better opportunities in Florida with his Uncle Sal. The pair are to be followed later on by Dennis’s mother. Dennis, aged eighteen, works construction during the day and by night he socializes with members of the counter-culture. Driven by a desire to be a musician, Dennis fights with the usual fears of a youth at the time, namely, the draft. Along the way, he forms a romantic connection with a girl named Joanne. On a trip back home for his sister’s wedding, Dennis realizes his love for music outshines any romantic relationship. Will Dennis fulfil his dreams and move to Nashville?

Mr. Bieker does something rather unique with The Pilgrim. He manages to tell a story based solely on the perspective of his main character, himself. I could relate to the conflict of deciding where you want to go in life. My only criticism is I wish the story continued long after the last page. I felt Mr. Bieker could have continued on for several chapters. Although we find out what happened to the other characters, I never got a real sense of what happened to Dennis and that was very disappointing. I know that when writing an autobiography, one can only go as far as their knowledge allows, so I still give this book high praise. I particularly liked the hippie, Sunshine, and the construction foreman, Reed. The Pilgrim is a different way to look at life during the 1960s.

Alysha Allen

The sixties is a timeless era in American history. Certainly it has not aged, if only while reading about it, to become better over time as with any delectable vintage. Dennis Bieker's novella, The Pilgrim, is a coming-of-age story featuring eighteen-year-old Dennis, nicknamed Danny. Dennis leaves his hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for sunny south Florida with his relapsing alcoholic father to join the burgeoning construction industry. Although he befriends several people once there, he shortly realizes that he is set to follow a different path to that crowd of continual carousers who live only for the present, in order to pursue a professional musical career in Nashville as a country artist.

Dennis Bieker renders, however brief, a potent and concentrated vision of America in 1969 when, like Dennis, the nation also remains in an uncertain limbo for a time, and consists of peripatetic wanderers and vagabonds. Indeed, for this reason, I would have preferred if The Pilgrim were expanded and continued to include more of Dennis's Kerouacian adventures in Nashville. Bieker composes a satisfying and worthy account of his own life as an eighteen-year-old during the Vietnam War, one who resembles all of us making our own pilgrimage through life. That is, as we face a crossroads we must have the courage to make the difficult decision of starting a new life in a new city until we find home. For those making long journeys this year, The Pilgrim is a commendable companion, especially for those who seek encouragement to simply live fully in and as a part of this world.