A thoughtful and well-executed celebration of golf and haiku.




A collection examines golf through essays and haiku.

Golf and haiku poetry have more in common than readers might initially think. Success at either requires viewing the world from a certain perspective. “This is the cultivation of a ‘quiet mind,’ that is, the ability to focus on the moment and the immediate target,” writes the author in his introduction. “It is to give oneself to the task at hand, to be in that moment, and to resolve to accept—and to learn from—the outcomes of the effort no matter what they may be.” Here Zingg (An Emerald Odyssey, 2008, etc.) provides 72 haiku on subjects related to golf, a number matching the par value at most courses and the author’s age. Each haiku is accompanied by a brief essay on the same topic as the poem. For example, the 11th haiku is entitled “Squib”: “The squib brings fierce rain, / umbrellas raise against it— / a feeble defense.” The author then explains in the companion essay, “Squibs are brief showers that can occur anytime, anywhere, along the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland.” He goes on to explore how squibs affect games of golf in those regions by introducing elements of surprise and serendipity—just the sort of moments that haiku are made for. While cynical readers might find this idea a little too cute by half, Zingg’s point about the relationship between haiku and golf turns out to be a very sound one. Furthermore, he is both a sincere student of haiku and a capable practitioner of the form, understanding what it is and is not. The author seeks out true instances of complication and gracefully probes their dimensions, as in “Seeing”: “What fills the spaces / between the targets and shots— / nothing, everything.” The essays, though brief, supplement the poems and aid the understanding of their subjects. While this is most definitely a book for golfers first and foremost, haiku fans in general will likely find things here to complement their appreciation of the form. It may even lead them to pick up a new hobby.

A thoughtful and well-executed celebration of golf and haiku.

Pub Date: April 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984516-86-2

Page Count: 278

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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


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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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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