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Lucky to make it.
on December 28, 2012
In short: a decent account of a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail by someone who is not just lucky to have made it, but lucky to be alive. In essence the hike gets interrupted when the author develops chest pains and has to have coronary bypass surgery, hence the three hundred zeros. The book would have benefitted from a good editing with the removal of all the needless exclamation points.
At length: the author is living in Florida when he decides to undertake a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He feels as though he is physically fit enough to walk two thousand some miles from Georgia to Maine. Except at some point his heart tells him differently. Here is where the story gets interesting/bizarre. Most people know that chest pains are to be taken seriously and most people would either go straight to an emergency room or call 911 to be transported to an emergency room if they develop chest pains; at least that is what numerous health-conscious organizations are telling us. However, when the author gets chest pains during his hike he correctly diagnoses his own coronary artery disease but instead of seeking medical care, he just swallows some aspirin and keeps on hiking to Maine. In the medical field we call that denial. On the Appalachian Trail and in most National Parks this would usually result in the transport of a corpse. Luckily, the author eventually seeks medical attention and one coronary bypass and three hundred days later he is back hiking northbound to Maine. If nothing else you have to admire his persistence.
The author used his engineering background to build himself a portable ham radio and set a goal of making contact with other ham radio operators in every state along the trail. Communicating by morse code, he does fulfill this goal. Social media laid bare to its most basic form.
One irritating aspect of the book is the author's references to celibacy. He is married and although along the trail he has numerous opportunities to cheat on his wife, he chooses wisely against it. If he had taken the time to look up the word celibacy however he probably would have altered his prose. Celibacy is a personal choice of abstinence reserved for religious devotees or widowers. And, since when did not cheating on your spouse become cause for public celebration?
The rest of the book is just a mediocre account of people and places interspersed with numerous exclamation points. A good editor would have removed every single exclamation point. There are way too many books out there with these needless exclamation points. To anyone out there reading this and thinking about writing a book, make your prose the exclamation and let the reader decide the relative value. Exclamation points are bandied about wrecklessly in e-mails and text messages so frequently that authors feel the need to include at least one on every page of their book. An exclamation point is the nuclear weapon of puctuation marks. If you are going to drop one you better have a damn good reason!