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Cabin Pressure: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor Hardcover – May 30, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; First Edition edition (May 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401302602
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401302603
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,214,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Wolk bids adieu to carefree living by returning one last time to summer camp before he gets married. In his account of his eight-week stint as a counselor at Camp Eastwind in Maine, he takes the reader on a romp through male adolescence, which, for Wolk, has retained an archetypal purity. Through the humor ("apoopeatersayswhat?"), the diving board games ("arrrgh, ya got me!"), the smell ("a mixture of feet, old olive loaf and an un–air-conditioned morgue"), he captures the essence of the male teenager with tender, wistful insight. The book evokes in the reader the same nostalgia for camp—and even adolescence—that Wolk feels as he anticipates his return to Eastwind. What propels the memoir, though, is Wolk's frank description of his own re-emerging insecurities inherent to his adolescent self. When he receives a tepid reception from the other counselors, for instance, he calls his fiancée and expresses his reservations about his plan, sounding like a homesick camper calling home. Then there is Mitch, the "action-sport junky" counselor from Wolk's youth, creating the perfect balance between tension and fun-loving innocence: Wolk's domination over his campers in backgammon just cannot compare to Mitch's speedboat rides. But Wolk undergoes a significant transformation, leaving behind his adolescent misconceptions about manhood and re-entering the world on his own terms. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A few months before his impending wedding, before the full weight of adulthood descended upon him, Entertainment Weekly senior writer Wolk realized he needed to take some time and get reacquainted with his younger self. He returned to the summer camp where he spent some of the best weeks of his life, both as a camper and as a counselor. A lighthearted take on the whole you-can't-go-home-again theme, his memoir is like the best bits of a whole bunch of summer-camp movies (remember Meatballs? or Indian Summer?) mixed together. Not that it's just a rehash of stuff you have seen before: Wolk puts a new spin on his perennial topic, observing camp life from the point of view of someone who knows what it was like 20 years ago and who is in the position to compare the boy he used to be with the man he is today. Sometimes poignant, but mostly just very funny, Wolk's reflections will get readers thinking about maybe, just maybe, taking one last plunge into childhood before it's too late. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Sure, I wrote the comic memoir, "Cabin Pressure: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth at Summer Camp." But, you may ask, what else have I done? You sure are nosy, but I'll indulge you.

After growing up in historic Lexington, Massachusetts (you know that liberty you enjoy in America? YOU'RE WELCOME!), I attended Tufts University. There I founded the campus humor magazine, The Zamboni, a title I thought was very clever at age 19. Upon graduation, I moved to New York and worked on a series of television shows that I could not in good conscience ever recommend my friends watch. Perhaps you remember my production-coordinator work on Lifetime Medical Television's "Cardiology Update"? People are still talking about the season-three cliffhanger.

Realizing TV was not for me, I attended Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism (go Fightin' Sources!), and then spent a year fact-checking at Vanity Fair. The writers I worked with there taught me a very important rule of journalism: if you know a fact-checker will later need to review your interview tapes, do not leave your recorder running in your pocket while you go to the bathroom. From VF I headed to Entertainment Weekly as the first original writer for its online site, I later moved to the magazine, where I am now a senior writer, and now can sense when a major movie is bombing just by the way the wind changes.

My work has also appeared in the New York Times, Time Out New York, Sports Illustrated, and Golf magazine, and my commentaries have been heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."

I live in Brooklyn with my wife, Christine, and daughter. I am six-foot-seven-inches tall, but trust me, you do not want me on your basketball team.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
Never been to summer camp, but the book is laugh out loud funny.
Diane C. Linthicum
I found myself laughing and cracking a smile numerous times during my reading and I know other readers will too.
N. Lasky
The perfect gift for any guy...which is why I am buying my Dad a new copy.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my Dad for Father's Day and when it arrived just wanted to read the first page or so...and couldn't stop. It is really well written and although it's a cliche I really did laugh out loud while reading it. The perfect gift for any guy...which is why I am buying my Dad a new copy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Reynolds on June 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This was a very enjoyable book, easy to read (in a good way) and laugh out loud funny in a lot of spots. Josh Wolk has a great way with words and some of his quips are quite clever and extremely amusing. I have never been to summer camp, but that didn't stop me from appreciating this entertaining book. By the time the campers were being picked up by their parents at the end of the book, I actually realized I was going to miss some of these characters (even ADD Kid). Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jose Jones on October 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I take that title from a Frank Black song, which I think is a pretty accurate way of describing the nervous step you take into full-fledged adulthood. "Cabin Pressure" details Josh Wolk's step.

I first took notice of Wolk through his terrific writing at "Entertainment Weekly." He wrote day-after commentary on the "Real World" that was so gut-bustingly hilarious my friends and I used to E-mail the highlights to each other. After a while, the writing was so good and the show so bad, we stopped watching the show and just read the wrap-ups.

Wolk's best skill as a writer is his gift of observation. Give him any scenario and he can instantly break it down, expose each player's motivation, and end it all with a hilarious analogy.

He brings that keen observation to "Cabin Pressure," his tale of heading back to camp as a counselor on the brink of his wedding day. Having remembered camp as a kind of innocent oasis, Josh wants to reexperience it one more time before he becomes, gulp, a husband and a father.

Wolk fills us in on summer-camp life -- what he remembered from his day, what has changed, and what hasn't. The best part of the book is Wolk's interaction with the kids in his cabin. He does an amazing job of letting you know each one, whether they are charming, maddening, or depressingly and prematurely stressed-out and miserable.

I don't necessarily think I bought into Josh's overall theme here -- this whole nostalgic innocence trip -- but it doesn't matter because "Cabin Pressure" is often hilarious and reading this book is like a well-spoken, really funny friend telling you his best summer-camp stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By suepeterson on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Even though it's been 35 years since the first time I was a counselor, every year around Fathers Day I have the urge to grab my sleeping bag and head up to camp for staff orientation. This book reminded me of why that urge is still so strong - why I spent six summers of my life as summer camp staff, working 14 hours a day most days and making less than I could have working a virtually anywhere else.

In the summer before he married and entered a new phase of life, the author chose to relive part of his childhood by becoming a camp counselor at the same camp he'd attended as an adolescent. Although older than the typical counselor and with a fiance waiting at home for him to finish his adventure, the authors experiences of feeling like he didn't quite fit in with the staff, his struggles with trying to stay upbeat after weeks of little sleep and hard physicial work and the silliness he shared with his campers mirror the experience of every counselor, whatever age. His story rang so true - although I worked at two coed YMCA camps rather than an all boys camp, the songs, jokes, activities and adolescent angst are universal.

For those who were campers, it's a window into the mysterious life that counselors led. For those of us who staffed camps, it's a sometimes funny, sometimes touching reminder of why we chose spend our summers without creature comforts of home, making little money while living with other people's children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terri Rowan on July 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Vicky Burkholder
on 07/13/2008

Who has not been to summer camp, even if only for a day? And as an adult, who has not sat in his or her industrial beige/grey cubicle on a clear, beautiful summer day and wished they were once again that carefree youngster jumping into a frigid lake or pounding initials into a piece of leather?

Josh Wolk, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, decided to spend part of the summer before his wedding doing just that. He returned to his old haunt as a counselor, hoping to find his boyhood before stepping solidly into adulthood. His lighthearted look at the goings on at camp will keep you laughing. But, just as in life, all is not high-jinks and pratfalls. He is looking back at this from the perspective of twenty years beyond most of the people there. But he gives even the serious stuff a humorous edge.

If you've ever been to summer camp, or even if you haven't, you'll enjoy this book. It's both funny and nostalgic, a perfect blend of entertainment. So grab your gorp and bug juice and come along for the ride. You'll be glad you did.
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