Book review: A wild whitewater ride
Ryan Summerlin February 15, 2013
Lifestyle choices say a lot about a person. One can be defined as a couch potato, a daredevil or a wallflower, for example. The couch potato’s lofty goals include navigating the TV Guide each night and seeking adventure no further than a 48-inch flat-screen. A daredevil looks for thrills anywhere he or she can get them, often with no particular interest in the journey, the rewarding adrenaline rush being the only goal. The wallflower makes an art out of fading into the woodwork and floating through social settings on the periphery.
Then, there are those people who do what they do in life for the simple reason that they can live life no other way. They have a calling, a yearning, a passion. It all comes down to the same thing; a need to live life to the fullest, no matter the risks.
“Anything Worth Doing,” by Jo Deurbrouck is a story of one such life, a life lived on a river – all rivers, really, but one river, in particular, one river that tempted, rewarded, and eventually punished Clancy Reese.
“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing” is a maxim common to adventurers, whether it is climbing the highest mountain without supplemental oxygen, or diving the deepest blue hole, or traversing a frigid pole, alone. This motto became the driving force for two experienced professional rafting guides, Jon Barker and Clancy Reese, as they embarked on an epic journey, 900 miles of the tumbling, churning and meandering white waters of the Salmon, Snake and Columbia rivers, from their shared source to their final bow at the Pacific Ocean.
Securing the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award, Deurbrouck has landed herself in good company, alongside such masters of adventure literature as Farley Mowat, Greg Child, Joe Simpson and Henry David Thoreau. While the author’s narrative succeeds in bringing to life a larger-than-life individual, Clancy Reese, the main character is the river itself, which lives powerfully on every page, through each triumph and up to the ultimate tragedy.
A lovingly built dory, a speed-record goal and two devoted men of the river, all help make “Anything Worth Doing” a gripping account of a rapidly disappearing world, where rivers spill uninhibited and eddy through one of the last remaining expanses of wilderness of the Western United States. Clancy Reese spent a decade in a romance with the mighty Idaho headwaters, and Deubrouck’s homage to his adventurous spirit is a book most definitely “worth doing.”