Into My Father's Wake, by Author (Hardcover, 2011)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This book just grabs you and does not let go until the end. Writing
in a style that is rich in detail yet moves quickly through the action,
Eric Best brings the reader along a round trip across 5,000 miles of
ocean and a lifetime of emotions, failures, hopes, and dreams.
The author provides us with an account of this harrowing solo journey
from San Francisco to Hawaii and back, through storms, fatigue, galley
gaffes, and repeated battles against the feelings of desperation and
despair. But he's also taking an inner journey, along which he seeks to
resolve conflicts that have long haunted and undermined him. On that
journey, also, he deals with storms and fatigue--but of the emotional
While his central conflict on that trans-Pacific trip is with the
ocean (which, he realizes, doesn't care if he lives or dies), his
central conflict on his emotional journey is with his father. And thus,
the title of the book. Those four words also end the last sentence of
I don't do sailing, but I do climbing. People sometimes say, "I could
never do that. I'm afraid of heights." My response is, "I have that same
fear. I confront it with every climb." In Eric's case, it wasn't a fear
of sailing but a fear of isolation. He could have take this trip with a
companion, but instead made the journey by himself. And in so doing, he
confronted his fear and (barely) overcame it.
This book isn't a novel, because it's a real-life account. But the
author writes like a novelist. Novelists work hard to maintain what they
call "tension." This is what keeps the reader on the edge of his/her
seat, or at least interested enough to keep turning the pages. Too
little tension, and the reader grows bored. Too much tension without a
break in it, and the story becomes a burden. In this book, the author
adroitly raises and breaks the attention. You can't help but become so
enthralled you just keep reading.
So, it is a well-written biographical account of events? Not exactly.
Because in this story, the author shares his thoughts, doubts, and fears
as each problem or crises occurs. Or even may occur. For example, he's
frequently plagued by the specter of being run over by a freighter (a
fatal event for a 47-foot ketch like the Feo he's sailing). And he shows
us the demons that arise when he can't make a sure determination of
where he is.
Ah, so that makes it a self-help book? Not exactly. The author
doesn't cheerily conclude with a 12-step program or ten tips for
changing your life. If you can empathize with the author as you read
along, and it's hard not to, you'll probably find that you're gaining
the same insights he gained on this trip. I didn't mull over these
"lessons learned" while reading the book, as it kept me riveted to its
pages. But after completing the book, I realized that the real story
here wasn't about the sailing.
This book would make an excellent resource for any group study
focused on learning from life. For example, I can see a philosophy class
using this book as the basis for some pretty deep and interesting
discussions. Any college literature program that still makes students
read The Great Gatsby can replace that book with this one.
Sunday School teachers: While this book would be excellent in many ways
for your use, it does contain a few blue words that your group won't be
comfortable saying aloud in class.
Into My Father's Wake probably
won't join the fluff pieces that have dominated the business genre over
the past few years, but any manager or executive should put it on
his/her personal required reading list.