Saturday, April 28, 2012

BC2012: Another Shot by Joe Kita

In Another Shot, the author (a former Bicycling magazine editor) spends a year trying to right some wrongs and exploring the idea of a life without regrets. It makes perfect sense and no sense at all that I bought this book. It makes sense because I'm 41 and Kita wrote this when he was 40, so we're in the same place in life. It makes no sense because I don't have regrets like his. Kita rather arrogantly asserts that "a man with no regrets is a man who lacks the guts to confront himself," but I'm just not wired that way. Lord knows I've had plenty of time for navel-gazing in the past ten years, but regrets are not something I've ever given much thought. If I had to come up with regrets, mine would be more about things I did than about things I didn't do, and even those would be essentially vindictive and trivial, like "I regret that I did that favor for him since he turned out to be such a jerk" or "I regret that I spent so much money on that date since she dumped me the next week." So although the book looked interesting to me and I liked what I read at the store, I couldn't really identify with the author's premise. Plus it veers dangerously close to "self-help", not one of my favorite genres.

That said, I enjoyed the book anyway. Kita tries to get his first car back, learns to surf, and attempts to win a big prize at a carnival. Those are the more practical ones. Things get murkier when he tries to correct "getting cut from the high school basketball team", "never having the courage to ask her out", and "missing our wedding" (he and his wife felt that they missed it because it went by so quickly -- I can identify with that, but I wouldn't want a "do-over"*). You really can't go back to those moments, so these efforts are kind of pointless. Fortunately, Kita is a humorous and entertaining writer, and that made the book worth reading. I enjoyed the individual chapters despite my misgivings about the overarching premise. Besides, any book with a chapter about Jack LaLanne can't be bad.

Two cool things about this book that really have nothing to do with the book:
  1. I found a bookmark inside that says "I love my library" with library in 20 languages. It probably refers to one's local public library rather than one's personal collection, but I'll take it as the latter and add it to my collection (no offense to public libraries intended -- they would save me a lot of money -- but I haven't been to one in years).
  2. An old price tag on the back is partially intact, bearing the name and location of a bookstore I had never heard of (This Old Book in Grayslake, IL). I'll have to check it out someday.
As a writer, I also think it's cool that Kita got his publisher to fund many of these adventures and that he probably wrote off the rest on his taxes. Imagine itemizing a psychic, a private investigator, a butler, a surfing instructor, a survival course, and a weekend sex retreat! And it's interesting that the chapter about visiting Jack LaLanne came about because of something in Kita's previous book about fathers, while his next book, Accidental Courage, seems to have been inspired by a chapter in this book about being afraid. It's neat to be able to connect the dots in someone's body of work.

* Kita addresses this regret by renewing his vows, so that chapter was a total waste to me. I, like my dad, think that renewing wedding vows is bullshit -- you made the original vow "until death do us part", so why make it again?


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