Fishermen will love this book for its attention to detail and for seeing the humor in their obsessions, but a more general...

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The Laughing Trout

A NOVEL OF FLY FISHING IN A MAD, MAD WORLD OF LOVE AND PANDEMONIUM.

Fly-fishing enthusiasts turn a lazy fishing town into a madhouse as they try to become the first to snag an ugly trout for a big reward in this playful, good-natured insider’s sendup of the sport.

Ure (Leaving the Fold, 2000, etc.) previously wrote a fly-fishing memoir, but his first attempt at fiction is a community love note to the craziness that the fishing hobby can induce. Jud Buckalew, a trout-fishing guide living with his pet cat, Bob, in a tiny cabin in Last Chance, Idaho, only wants peace and quiet to pursue, à la Captain Ahab, the giant old trout he calls “The Pig.” Upset that his smarmy cousin Mark Bosham—who claims a childhood spent in Paris but neglects to mention it was Paris, Idaho—has been appointed the local fishing inspector, Jud calls on his old friend Rollo Pasco, a State Department employee, and asks him to send frozen samples of a hideous, fanged trout created in a failed gene splicing experiment. Jud convinces Mark that the fish are a new species found in the river, and Mark puts out a $50,000 reward for a live specimen that he could send for genetic analysis. The town residents and fish-seekers are broad caricatures—the crazy naked environmentalist, the older bass fisherman with a priapic medical condition, and the two guys who are amusingly depicted in their home environments as they catch the fish frenzy and try to hide their fishing adventures from their wives. But character interactions are often stilted and shallow, particularly the rapidly developed romantic relationship between Jud and Suzanne Hsu, visiting NBC reporter and “oriental mirage.” This struggle to make his characters play believably against one another means that even when all their stories come together at the river, the farce never really reaches a satisfying peak before scattering back into its component parts.

Fishermen will love this book for its attention to detail and for seeing the humor in their obsessions, but a more general audience may not quite get it.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481005326

Page Count: 216

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2014

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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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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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