EVEN IF IT KILLS ME by Donivan Blair

EVEN IF IT KILLS ME

Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A rock musician chronicles his adventures at a taekwondo dojo in Texas.

Blair’s debut book is a whirlwind through his broad range of experiences and eclectic interests. He is primarily known as a bassist for the alternative rock band the Toadies, whom readers may know for their 1994 hit “Possum Kingdom.” But while Blair recounts his escapades with the band on the road throughout the work, the memoir mainly discusses the author’s love of martial arts. After settling with his wife in Amarillo, Texas, Blair decided to get in better shape by picking up a passion from his past: taekwondo. He takes the reader on a tour of the limited dojo offerings throughout the city before settling on a World Taekwondo Federation dojang led by a coach for the U.S. Olympic team. Shortly thereafter, Blair was a white belt in his early 40s, sparring with teenagers far above his skill level, getting regular lessons in humility. The author writes in a wandering, conversational tone that can be digressive and difficult to follow at times. Occasionally, he includes personal critiques of his younger sparring partners that can seem oddly vindictive, but most of the time the narrative voice is amusing despite the excess of superfluous anecdotes. Once Blair settles into his dojang, he takes the reader through his growing obsession with taekwondo. He acquired equipment, trained constantly, and slowly won the respect and friendship of his more experienced peers in his quest to attain a black belt. Along the way, he learned a clichéd but heartwarming lesson about the philosophical value of martial arts: “Knowing kicks and punches is not what keeps us protected. It’s the values and the self-control that allow us to live life and be better people.” In addition to Toadies fans, this account should please readers looking for a lighthearted foray into a strange pocket of American culture: Texan taekwondo.

An uneven but charmingly eccentric memoir detailing a bassist’s martial arts journey. 





Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-59439-539-0
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: YMAA Publication Center
Program: Kirkus Indie
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