Falling: Book Review
Review by Michael Robertson
Maybe you’ve met people doing what they’re born to do? People who early-on embraced a vocation that was perfectly aligned with their interests and aptitudes? Not only are these folks usually the best in their chosen fields, they’re also happy, and balanced—at peace. I would put my master-electrician brother-in-law in that category. I would put Nigel Calder in that category. I would also put master-sailmaker Carol Hasse of Port Townsend in that category. And I would Carol’s good friend, Port Townsend master-rigger Brion Toss firmly in the club.
I hope Brion Toss isn’t an unfamiliar name; it shouldn’t be. He’s the author of The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice, an authority on all things sailboat rigging that’s been in print (in some edition) for more than 30 years. It’s a beautifully illustrated work that’s also a pleasurable read, not at all dry. What comes through on the pages is Brion’s passion and interest for all things rigging—and that extends to fancy knotwork. In fact, Brion is also the author of Chapman’s Knots for Boaters.
And neither of these books is the subject of this review.
Brion recently wrote and published a slim book called Falling. It’s all about rigging and yet, there’s nothing technical or how-to between the covers. If you were to join Brion at a local pub after work and ask him to share with you his favorite rigging stories—both from his long and formidable career working aloft, and from second-hand retellings—this book would be the transcript of his storytelling. As the title portends, the theme that runs through all the stories is the effect gravity can and does have on bodies and objects hoisted into the air.
But don’t consider that these stories are morbid, quite the opposite. Brion’s dry, wry humor is on full-bore in this volume and it’s a sincere pleasure to read. The 16 stories in this book are short, each a page or two, and will leave you smiling. And you’re sure to learn something too. Don’t know what a needle gun or an Affelbach is? You’ll understand both when you’re done, and you’ll be very glad neither is familiar.
Michael Robertson is editor of Good Old Boat magazine.
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