A nice book landed in the hall the other day, the postman having propelled it through the letter box with unusual force. It was joined by another, and then another, and together they were welcome additions to one that arrived a while ago, though whether they will be happy to be in the company of my novel, Flack's Last Shift - due out in a few weeks - is not known.
The first arrival was Golden Lily. This is the story of Lijia Xu, Asia's first dinghy sailing gold medallist. Hers is a remarkable story. "You must comply with every instruction and have no right to say a single 'no'." Lily, as she is known, was told this at the Army training camp at which she, in common with all Chinese athletes, began her Olympic training. I recall a similar edict when I was a trainee solicitor but even so I had considerably more freedom than Lily. That she succeeded so well is all the more admirable given injuries that seriously scuppered her bid for glory. A very good and inspirational read.
The second book through the letter box was The First Indian. As its name suggests, this is the tale of another first, this time that of Dilip Donde, who, in 2010, became the first Indian sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation under sail - a fine effort accomplished by little more than 200 people to date. I haven't finished this book yet but so far it's excellent - an accessible and warm read.
Another in the 'to finish' category is Around the Coast in 80 Waves by Jonathan Bennett. This has only just been delivered and I'd say I'm 80 or so pages into what is an appealing and witty read. Moreover, it's a book that features my good friend Aerial Attack, though perhaps criminally without reference to any of his attacks, aerial or otherwise. A good addition to the ever-burgeoning British surf lit library.
Before this deluge of watery words I was submerged in One Breath, by Adam Skolnick, which recounts the tragic death of Nick Mevoli while freediving. I reviewed this book for the TLS and was complimentary about it, for good reason. Skolnick ably describes the technicalities of freediving and brilliantly captures Mevoli's exuberant and yet tormented character. Interestingly, New Zealander Will Trubridge, who features often in One Breath, has just set a new freediving world record of 122 metres. If you ask me diving down 122 metres is as mad as it is impressive; if you want to understand better what motivates the likes of Trubridge, check out One Breath.
Now then, will these books be pleased that another one is soon to enter the world? I don't know. But the cover of Flack's Last Shift is below and it's published on 9 June.