The lure of fly-fishing by a delightful essayist who's becoming one of the most popular and respected angling writers in the country. A resident of Longmont, Colorado, Gierach (Even Brook Trout Get the Blues, 1992; Sex, Death and Fly-Fishing, 1990) does most of his fishing in the streams and rivers of the Rocky Mountains. He and a few friends follow one such stream to 11,000 feet above sea level to ``find and fish a certain alpine lake'' reputed to have large cutthroat trout. They wandered, he says, for six or seven miles, not fishing the right lake until after they'd spent the day joyously casting on a scenic pond ``as sterile as a stone toilet bowl.'' On yet another Colorado pond, Gierach tries to ignore a ``purplish-black, almost eggplant-colored'' thundercloud, settling for an afternoon in the truck, watching the bass rise in the rain: ``When you have to hold your hat with one hand and dodge your streamer fly, it's too windy.'' He describes a long-awaited trip to Scotland in quest of Atlantic salmon; fishing a ``private river,'' he and his friends ``drank the good whiskey they don't export to America and, of course, our party of five fished hard for six days and caught one fish among us.'' In 1991 Gierach participated in the First Annual Colorado Fly-Casting Open tournament—his first, and last, try at ``competitive fishing''—during which he placed ``dead third and came very close to wishing ill on a friend,'' but stopped short of hoping for that friend to ``slip on a wet rock and break his casting arm.'' He happily recounts his pursuit of a ``large, fat rainbow'' during a Pale Morning Dun mayfly hatch on a catch- and-release local river. Defiantly floating in a hard-to-cast-to pool about four yards square, the fish eluded Gierach for two days, but the angler remembers it as a time when he summoned all his skill and knowledge and got ``everything right.'' Informative and sassy, these well-crafted gems sparkle even in a genre known for quality writing. (Illustrated by Glenn Wolff—not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-77924-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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


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...


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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