Friday, June 12, 2009

Publishers Weekly Review of A and F

Absinthe and Flamethrowers, was reviewed in April 7, 2009 Publisher's Weekly:

Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously William Gurstelle. Chicago Review, $16.95 paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-55652-822-4

If you can imagine Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes all grown up, this supercharged guide for amateur thrill seekers would probably replace Hobbes as his constant companion. Ostensibly in order to encourage the notion that “to a point, the ability to wage risk is a useful and worthwhile attribute,” professional engineer Gurstelle (The Art of the Catapult) lays out detailed instructions for making “black powder” (gunpowder), rockets, flamethrowers and other devices that will endanger your digits and eyebrows. To the author’s credit, he is equally detailed in his prescriptions of safety gear and precautions. He also details more hedonistic thrills, such as absinthe, cigarette smoking and “thrill eating” à la the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern—“in small amounts,” he says, “they add bite and depth to the flavor of life.” Most of the recipes and blueprints that Gurstelle shares with fellow “Big-T” (thrill-seeking) personalities, can be found all over the Internet, but this antidote to the usual cautious self-help guides is written well if occasionally in overheated prose, and, more important, is presented responsibly. Illus. (June)