Friday, December 09, 2005

Proving Ground



I hate long flights...So I figured what better way to pass the time then to download an audio book to my ipod and listen on the way to Jamaica. I found www.audible.com on the net and decided to grab a book or two for the journey. Found a few sailing books...some of which were not available in Canada (what is up with that?).

Picked 2 books that interested me the first was The proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht.

Publishers Weekly reviewed the book:
Coolness under extreme pressure marks not only the subject of Wall Street Journal correspondent Knecht's highly praised book about the ill-fated 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race but also its writing and reading. Knecht, a sailor as well as a journalist, uses good journalism and novelistic flourishes to tell the story of one of the worst disasters in modern yachting history. Of the 115 boats that started under clear skies in Sydney, just 43 would finish. Many sailors lost their lives, while others were rescued by airborne heroics after the fleet had been ripped apart by unforecast winds and 80-foot-high waves. Matching Knecht's cool professionalism, veteran actor Stanley Tucci who has himself played journalists as diverse as Walter Winchell and Joe Mitchell reads the story with a minimum of melodrama, letting the words and deeds of those involved re-create the danger, horror and final triumph of man over nature.

The book was a fascinating listen. The courage these sailors needed to venture out into the ocean and deal with the full fury of mother nature pounding on them relentlessly was inspiring and frightening. I have examined my own inner strength at this point in my life and concluded that as much as I desire to test my courage and face death in an ocean crossing race, I cannot risk leaving my kids without a father for selfish reasons. After hearing the tales of survival and contemplating some of the unbelievable decisions that had to be reached during the storm, I know that the time is not right for me to even think about such a race.

I know, in time, when the kids are older, I will be faced with the same nagging question....should I or should I not try a once in a lifetime journey, a survival test, a test of courage and determination. I know I have the strength to do it but I need to resolve the inner issue, the voice in my head that says you are a father and should not willingly put yourself at that level of risk for a joy ride.

Perhaps in time I will resolve the issue. I will re-visit it and contemplate it. I am not one for looking back on life and saying what if....I usually grab ahold and say why not! But this seems different somehow!

The second book is the unabridged version of Sailing Around the World by Joshua Slocum.

The New York Times review says:
...a literate and absorbing yarn published in 1900 and still in print....His story is a convincing tale of the intelligence, skill and fortitude that drove a master navigator.

I slept on the plane on the way back from Jamaica so I never actually listened to this one yet. I will give you my two cents when I do.

2 Comments:

Blogger Carol Anne said...

I haven't read The Proving Ground, but I have read other accounts of that race, and I must say I found them emotionally wrenching.

Slocum's book I have read, and I found it fascinating. It is especially interesting how very little ego he has. He's just sailing this boat, and that's that, and all the while he's doing incredible things, facing hardships that in this day and age we couldn't imagine.

Who's the narrator for the audiobook?

3:09 AM  
Blogger the skip said...

Alan Sklar narrates Slocum's book. The book sounds great and can't wait to listen to it. I would prefer to read but unfortunately I have little time and find that multitasking (mostly work and more work!) while listening to a good story is a great way to enjoy a fantastic book!

The Proving Ground is narrated by Stanley Tucci. Thanks Carol Anne!

12:38 PM  

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