I DON'T KNOW WHY I SWALLOWED THE FLY

MY FLY-FISHING ROOKIE SEASON

Actually, Maxwell (former natural history columnist for Audubon) knows very well why she swallowed the fly—for the rapt feeling of connection with her homeplace, the outdoors, and her departed father—and she tells her tale with both levity and flair. Maxwell has always liked to fish but had preferred saltwater fishing, savoring the briny serenity of the ocean. Then she got caught up in the hyperkinetic world of fly-fishing, an ``Attention Deficit Syndrome . . . with hooks,'' the art of matching an invisible hatch with a fly tied to an invisible leader in pursuit of an invisible fish, a sport requiring ``raw skill, and instinct, balance, strength and concentration undilute.'' Her mentor and nemesis is Guido Reindhart Rahr III, whom she met on a fishing trip, a whim, to Outer Mongolia's Sharlon River, hard by the Siberian border. Back home, together they explore the Deschutes River, getting to know both the fish and the ``grand, green Pacific Northwest.'' Maxwell is a serious fly-fisherwoman—she wants to know how to make the throw, how to read the water—but her eye is forever roaming the scenery, to which she gives substance on the page: hawk-colored shoulders of basalt, ``the drizzled, chilled elegance that turns fishing water into champagne,'' the Pacific Northwest's malachite beauty. Her thoughts range about, taking in quantum electrodynamics, the reportedly diminishing sperm count of late-20th-century men, her father's face, which she sees in the sky—all of which provide a wild tangibility to her nature and the mysteries of fly-fishing. Equally entertaining is the parade of oddballs she meets, like Len, who'se only endearing qualities are dyslexia and a bad haircut. A nifty collection of fly-fishing vignettes, the happy result of ignoring ``the ghostly voices of fly fishermen past, begging me to take up stamp collecting.'' (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-57061-079-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1997

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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