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Room for Improvement: A Life in Sport Paperback – November 13, 2012
"Brave Enough" by Cheryl Strayed
From the best-selling author of Wild, a collection of quotes--drawn from the wide range of her writings--that capture her wisdom, courage, and outspoken humor, presented in a gift-sized package that's as irresistible to give as it is to receive. Learn more | See related books
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"He's a damned good writer . . . How many professor types do you reckon would tackle a 50-mile run along the Adirondack Trail or an 11-day winter-survival course in Main that included two nights along in a makeshift cave?" —Wall Street Journal
"There's a lot of humor in these essays, most of it good-naturedly aimed at Casey himself. But he's serious, too. Casey doesn't scold those of us who aren't as physically active as we used to be; rather, he entices us to consider getting moving again, preferably outside." —The Boston Globe
"Room for Improvement is a marvel of closely observed mostly outdoor sport, much of it alarmingly strenuous, but colored throughout by infectious exuberance and tolerance for discomfort. With genteel detachment well to the rear, Casey brings us point blank to the levels of sporting commitment that rise to illumination." —Thomas McGuane
"In these empirical and informative essays, John Casey writes with the 'savor of attentiveness' about those peaks in cardiovascular exercise when we feel transformed—about being, as he puts it, 'encased in the rhythm of what I was doing.' Casey has walked, run, rowed, paddled, and cross-country skied. Not unlike those sports, these connected essays flow into one another, and they reflect more than an author's willingness to suffer 'a ruffled minor vanity'; not unlike the over-seventy athlete he is, John Casey's writing is exemplary and tireless." —John Irving
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Top Customer Reviews
In ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, Casey devotes each chapter to a phase of physical and athletic passion that he has engaged in during his seven decades. Each chapter is a stand-alone essay. Weaving them together is a clear and strong passion for the outdoors, for sports and for the vigorous life. Detractors might dismiss Casey as an athletic dilettante, but I think that would be harsh. The chapters cover a diverse array of athletic and outdoor passions, including:
* A 50-mike hike (in the heyday of the JFK era)
* A maritime-themed Outward Bound course off Maine's coast
* Various rowing and canoeing adventures
* Cross-country skiing
Casey brings a palpable sense of passion as he writes of the physical life and the pleasures of exercising. It's amazing what he is able to do as he gets older. If he suffers from many injuries or ailments, these never made the cut for the book. Well into his 70's, he is able to sustain a level of physical activity that would drop most people have his age.
There is the sense that modern life, with all its technology and conveniences, has made our existence too cushy and easy. There lingers among some a desire to take the harder, more rigorous route and to test themselves. ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT taps into this vein. Even if you have never engaged in any of the sporting or outdoor avocations depicted by Casey, his sparse prose makes for an absorbing read and may inspire you to get outside, chop some wood or dust off your bike.
Though there may be room for improvement in ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, I'm hard-pressed to specify what that may be and give it five stars!
"My body was changing mysteriously. The sky was apple green; the air felt like a silk shirt. I had to go somewhere far away. My body was changing so I would be able to. It grew longer and lighter. I began to run, easily but with an astonishingly powerful spring. Air came into my lungs not only through my mouth but directly through the skin of my chest. It was like slaking a deep thirst. I came to a hill. I feared it would be the end of the magic but the new magic just coiled tighter. It made me laugh."
That was it! I could remember many of those same feelings, not as in a dream as Casey was describing, but on the trail -- on Mount Marcy in New York, on Rainier in California, on a small but steep pitch in the Ramapos. Those words underlay Casey's writings, but also my physical exertions over many active years.
Casey writes in his Preface: "The subject of this book is exercise, from middle age into old age." His essays cover running, rowing, skiing, cycling, skating, climbing, judo and more -- and dreaming about many of those activities as well.
Casey has outdone me in the variety of activities -- although he doesn't cover the joys of storing bales of hay or cleaning cow and horse pens --but he captured many of the joys and motivations in my own life for physical exercise: losing weight, adventure, competition with others and myself, playfulness, the rush of endorphins, just plain joy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Inspiring series of stories about staying fit in a variety of ways--challenging oneself, pushing through when it's hard, not giving in to getter older. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jodi Zipp
That's it satisfying but also unsettling because I would like to have the gumption, spirit, joy that he has in lifePublished 17 months ago by blogo
A thoroughly enjoyable read about man who thrives on being physically active. Never preachy or boastful. Often humorous. Always engaging.Published 19 months ago by Lazy Tom