Top positive review
A funny, profound, exhilarating book
on December 17, 1998
This book is a gem: beautifully faceted, rarely found, and precious to keep. Craig Lambert is as skillful a wordsmith as he is a rower, and reading his intelligence at work on what it means--and what it takes--to master this sport is a delight. One of the pleasures of Mind Over Water is the way Lambert teases insight out of all aspects of rowing, as in his perfectly pitched meditation on balance in the section called "Equinox": "balance is no settled state: it is alive, dynamic, constantly emergent. Even those ideal moments when our boat sets up perfectly, flying across the water in silent, level splendor, only mean balance now. A second later, we must take the next stroke." Lambert is a transcendental rower, and he brings an Emersonian eye to the mind-body connection, as in this, one of my favorite passages: "The shell responds to motions of the body. The body follows the dictates of the mind. Hence the boat reacts to the rower's mind: when your mind quivers, so does your shell. . . . Conversely, a quiet mind levels the boat; stillness settles the body, and the shell, relaxing into agreement, takes the quietest, fastest route through the water." Lambert moves easily between the sublime and the prosaic, and when it's time to evoke the need to push the body to do more than it wants, he brings wit and humor to the task: "Don't tell me that this isn't the finish line, I think. This has got to be the finish line; I am already on my fourth wind and there is no way I can row another hundred feet, let alone another mile." And when he does finish, "I don't know about Tom [his rowing partner], but I have accomplished the impossible--several times over. Never mind that we were amazingly slow: we did it." Lambert has asked himself since childhood, Am I a real athlete? In other words, he's the perfect guide into the elemental and rarefied world of rowing. For those of us whose exercise regimes haven't been more ambitious than step classes, free weights, and weekend hikes, Lambert makes such a place accessible to the imagination. Mind Over Water is funny, profound, earthy, contemplative, even exhilarating. I highly recommend it.