Not a book that invites a second reading, but any parent would be impressed by the Normans' achievements, and the...

READ REVIEW

TWO FOR THE SUMMIT

MY DAUGHTER, THE MOUNTAINS, AND ME

Novelist and sportswriter Norman (Deep End, 1994, etc.) chronicles the birth, travails, and pleasures of a father-daughter climbing partnership.

As his 50th year approached, the author decided it would be a good idea to climb the Grand Teton. To his immediate dismay, then growing pleasure, his 15-year-old daughter, Brooke, wanted to join him. Norman, who makes his living as an outdoor writer (he writes in that nostalgic, raspy campfire voice of the upscale hook-and-bullet magazines), had spent his time afield primarily with other men, yet he was immediately taken with being in his daughter's company. A loving dad escorting his precious bundle into the high reaches of rock climbing? Yes, Norman admits, there is danger involved, and he is perfectly frank about why he is drawn to the peaks: “The undeniable truth is that risk lies at the heart of the appeal of mountain climbing . . . Taking risks and surviving is, quite simply, exhilarating.” In the mouth of someone taking these risks with a teenage girl, those remarks sound both irresponsible and foolish, but the writer doesn't mind sounding foolish: “Better to fall to my doom in front of her eyes than for her to see me wimp out.” Norman covers a decent amount of rock-climbing history, and more than a decent amount of background material on his daughter's schooling woes and his own past sporting exploits. The tone darkens somewhat when he turns to their climb of Aconcagua, an Andean 23,000-footer that rang his gong mightily while Brooke moved smoothly to the top, physically and emotionally. But on balance this is no harrowing saga on the order of Into Thin Air, just a homey and satisfying series of adventures.

Not a book that invites a second reading, but any parent would be impressed by the Normans' achievements, and the understated pride with which Dad recounts them gives it power.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-525-94494-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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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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