A heartfelt slice of time, twining Gillespie and his father’s love for each other with their love for the game of golf.

READ REVIEW

PLAYING THROUGH

A YEAR OF LIFE AND LINKS ALONG THE SCOTTISH COAST

Canadian author Gillespie makes his US debut with a pleasing, personalized tour of one of golf’s woolly precincts, the links in the Scottish town of Gullane.

In the mid-1980s, Gillespie was a graduate student at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland; as a member of the varsity golf team, he got the opportunity to play some fabled courses. Having sampled their elemental pleasures, he knew that his father, a stalwart working man who enjoyed golf for the pleasure of the game itself, would likewise revel in the play, but it was not to be: his father died of a stroke before they could walk a round in Gullane. Here, we travel through the year that Gillespie spent in Gullane with his wife and daughters in the company of two veterans, Jack and Archie, who between them have a century’s experience on the town’s course. They’re guys who consider 15 rounds with the same ball to be standard practice. They also have much to say when the club is considering going public; the author himself has decided opinions about those who think golf ought to remain the private reserve of the well-to-do. From his father’s canny card playing, Gillespie learned the art of reserve and a touch of humility when it comes to acknowledging one’s shots. But he can’t share with Dad the pure and utter beauty of the linksland: wind-wracked, swelling, grassed-waved, the sea just there, green and gold and full of sky, blue or gray. Gillespie endeavors to take the course’s measure, but its hoariness keeps him at arm’s length. In the end, he is just happy to have had the time there with his family and to have imagined how his father would have addressed the links, and his son’s life.

A heartfelt slice of time, twining Gillespie and his father’s love for each other with their love for the game of golf.

Pub Date: May 4, 2004

ISBN: 1-4000-5223-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2004

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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