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Book review: “Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats” by Roger Rosenblatt

In “Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats,” Roger Rosenblatt uses water imagery to reflect on grief.
BY MARY MCREYNOLDS Published: June 10, 2012

Fans of Roger Rosenblatt's best-selling reflections on life and loss (“Making Toast,” “Unless It Moves the Human Heart,” etc.) will find much to bemuse, bemoan and belittle in his latest offering on the altar of prolonged self-pity.

The best thing about “Kayak Morning” (HarperCollins $13.99) is that it only takes a morning to finish reading. Neophytes of this truncated writing should expect zingy one-liners, morose snippets and blasting-God-for-my-sorrow tangents interrupted by occasional and quite lovely insights.

There's much to see along the river of no return, the author employing water imagery while picking over grief's driftwood. Loss of a loved one goes on and on. Shore-bound helpers try to keep him on an even keel. A therapist interjects unheeded advice. Of all things! Who knew death could be so everlastingly sad?

Weary of getting enmeshed in the author's self-indulgent nets, the reader can practice word association gambits found in the book. Try “death” for starters: “Death takes a holiday.” “Death, thou shalt die.” “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” “How is your blue-eyed boy, Mr. Death?” “Death and taxes.”

Paddling a kayak on a tame stream may float your boat or prove that we're being landed on a very commercial beach. It's a wobbly craft, and the water is wide.

— Mary McReynolds


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