A genuine and refreshing nature memoir.

In his debut memoir, a British journalist and copywriter tells the story of how outdoor swimming helped him cope with anxiety.

Minihane had glamorous dreams of becoming a journalist and travel writer, but as he approached 30, he found himself churning out copy about “phones, game consoles and speakers” instead. Even worse, the anxiety that had trailed him since graduate school had become a permanent feature of his life that he hid from everyone, including his wife. Temporary relief came only through swimming, so he swam “to fix myself, to cure myself and to make myself a better person in my own eyes.” In researching different places to partake of his “remedy,” the author came across the work of naturalist Roger Deakin, who had undertaken a journey across the British countryside to indulge his passion for swimming wild. Inspired, Minihane decided he would honor the late naturalist by following in his wake. He began his quest at a London public facility that he disliked for the way it had been transformed into a “commodity” rather than something that served the “well-being of society.” His first taste of the addictive headiness of a wild swim came with his experience in the River Granta. “Despite succumbing to extreme shivers,” he writes, “I was on a soaring high.” The inertia that had crippled him fell away as he eagerly anticipated each new adventure, which took him all over England and Scotland and helped him reconnect with old friends. When he accidentally broke his wrist and had to stop swimming, Minihane’s adventure ground to a halt and his anxiety returned. He sought therapy, which eventually became “like the swims I had enjoyed.” With expectations newly revised, the author resumed his watery journey, which had finally become his own. Detailed and searching, the book chronicles one man’s search for inner peace while reaffirming the calming power of the natural world.

A genuine and refreshing nature memoir.

Pub Date: July 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1492-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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