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     Volume 6 Issue 16 | April 27, 2007 |

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Book Review

Sabrina F Ahmad

You've heard the adage 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'. People keep telling you to get all the learning done now, so that you don't regret not having done them later. Then you have someone like Michael Bane who proves through his life that it's never too late to start something new.

The storyline is simple. A self-professed couch potato whittles away his life watching sports on television. Then one day, on a whim, he makes a list of thirteen extreme sports, and then gets up and does them all. During the course of this amazing journey, he spends some $30,000 and loses a girlfriend. His friends tell him repeatedly that he's lost it. Yet he goes through the entire list, death-defying sport by death-defying sport, and lives to tell the tales. And what tales they are.

This is the story of conquering your basic fears. Michael Bane was afraid of heights. Yet he managed to go rock climbing, skydiving, and hang-gliding. He couldn't swim, and was terrified of putting his head underwater, and yet he went cave diving, white-water rafting off a waterfall, and participated in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, which involved a mile's swim through shark-infested waters.

Aside from the sheer insanity of his feats, there's more to this novel that would appeal to anyone, even if one doesn't like sports. Bane is refreshingly honest, both and he isn't afraid to poke fun at himself. “My first clash with reality comes when the rubber meets the road, or, more accurately, when my sneakers meet the dirt. I am methodically (and painfully) turning myself into the slowest runner in the world.”

Bane is also candid about the risks involved in each of his undertakings, taking time to explain, in a manner clear to the layman (amongst whom he counts himself, as each experience is a new lesson for him) why each of these sports is dangerous. He makes it clear that these sports are dangerous, and one not only has to really want to do these things before they are able to, not just because of the risks, but because the preparations involved are also strenuous. Even this he manages to express in a humorous way. “After a series of classes that includes diving to below one hundred feet, underwater navigation, exploring wrecks, rescue and other specialities, my instructor asks me what I really want to do. 'I want to dive caves' I tell him. 'Idiot' he

Modest despite his accomplishments, he does not forget to pay tribute to his various gurus, which include his trainers, and sports philosophers with exotic names like Steve Ig and Dr Csikszeuntmihalyi, who in their own ways, support him through his tests.

The question of why he goes through all these exercises is raised at every point in this book. The answers evolve even as Bane evolves, and is ultimately more complex than simply testing himself, or searching for the adrenaline rush. The List, as he calls it, is his search for The Edge. Curious as to what it is? Read the book to find out.


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