NEVERSINK

ONE ANGLER'S INTENSE EXPLORATION OF A TROUT RIVER

Not just another rod-and reel-romance, this expert angler's well-told story of learning to husband a trout stream is a keeper. Wright (a contributor to Esquire, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, etc.) realizes a 20-year dream of fishing the Neversink River when he rents a 250-acre estate with one mile of the river flowing through it. (Running through a high Catskill Mountains valley, the Neversink is one of the finest eastern trout streams.) After his first excited forays, Wright begins improving his stream by stocking hatchery-raised brown trout, but he soon discovers that tank-raised fish have had shyness, territoriality, and all survival traits bred out of them. Worse, they are disgustingly easy to catch, rising to almost any fly— particularly those that resemble Purina fish pellets. Wright's experiments quickly become more sophisticated, beginning with ordering eggs of exotic trout subspecies from Alaska and planting them in the freezing December river. Along the way, Wright describes the initial exploitation of the Neversink as a private resource by a wealthy New Yorker who bought a hotel on its banks and claimed riparian rights. Native sons of the Neversink Valley furiously resented being shut off from their river and redoubled their fishing, although high-powered lawyers imported from New York brought them to heel. Wright, who eventually bought ``my water,'' avers that the present-day locals feel no resentment for the summer people. He does catch the occasional poacher: One 18- year-old compounded his trespass by fishing with a worm and was turned into the local authorities ``for processing.'' Although the year-round residents lack ``color and charm,'' there have been many notable visitors, including Theodore Gordon, who launched dry-fly fishing in America in 1890. Sadly, the underprivileged Gordon ``never owned any water'' and actually preferred ``public to private fisheries.'' Highly informative on the natural history of brook trout, the eternally evolving life of the trout stream, and the tiny world of top-drawer troutists.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1991

ISBN: 0-87113-502-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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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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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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