An engrossing account of greyhounds, their owners, and their champions.

THE DOGS OF AVALON

THE RACE TO SAVE ANIMALS IN PERIL

The story of the author’s adoption of a greyhound as a companion for her son and how she became involved with a fascinating group of animal rescuers.

It began in New Jersey when the author sold a vintage stove to a woman named Elizabeth, who had recently returned from a visit to Ireland. She suggested that the author’s son might like an Irish greyhound dog that she had recently rescued. He did, and she became a cherished member of the household, and a friendship between Schenone (The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family, 2007, etc.) and Elizabeth was born. Through Elizabeth, the author met Marion Fitzgibbon, the leader of a remarkable animal rescue group in Ireland, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The members of the ISPCA first came together because of a shared concern to find homes for stray street dogs. Over time, their goal became more ambitious: to create an animal sanctuary. An anonymous donation of 20,000 pounds enabled Fitzgibbon to purchase land for the establishment of a Limerick Animal Welfare Circle. For a time, greyhound racing had been a popular sport in Australia, England, Ireland, and the U.S. Throughout the narrative, Schenone smoothly interweaves her personal story with a history of the breed. As she notes, “images of greyhound-like dogs—with their deep-chested, slim-waisted, long-legged forms—appear in Western art going back thousands of years. They race and hunt and pose on Egyptian pottery and tombs, and in ancient Greek and Roman sculptures.” Cruel treatment of the dogs when they could no longer race or hunt provided the original basis for concern by animal activists who sought adoptive homes for them. Fitzgibbon was also an advocate for itinerant Travelers. As a result of bigotry toward them, she received threats that her dogs would be killed, but fortunately, they were never acted upon.

An engrossing account of greyhounds, their owners, and their champions.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-07358-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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