Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Lawyers Shoud Surf reviewed in The Independent newspaper

The following review appeared in The Independent newspaper on Wednesday 9 January 2008.

Why Lawyers Should Surf, by Tim Kevan and Michelle Tempest
How riding the waves can be the ultimate stress-buster
Reviewed by Andy Martin

If anyone had asked me before I read this book why lawyers should surf, I would have said that they would feel right at home with the sharks. The more enlightened and benevolent logic of Tim Kevan and Michelle Tempest is that lawyers and other stressed-out souls can get an infusion of wisdom by imitating the spirit of God and "moving upon the face of the waters".

Surfing is so difficult that it's hard to think of anything else while you're doing it. It's virtually impossible to worry about taxes as a monster wave comes hurtling towards you (although the question of death does arise). It concentrates the mind wonderfully. I suspect that there is something in the neurochemistry of surfing that induces a more contemplative, even transcendental, outlook.

Kevan, a London-based barrister, has truly seen the light and gone off to live and surf in Devon. The clever thing about the book he has written with his psychiatrist co-author, Tempest, is that even if it doesn't persuade you, in the middle of winter, to whip off your kit and get wet, it does give you the mental equivalent of a perfect day at Sunset Beach, Hawaii. I am generally averse to motivational books, probably because they reduce me to a sort of Pavlovian dog that can be easily trained. The beauty of this book is that, even as it suggests ways of fixing my "neuro-linguistic programming", it subtly restores a sense of poetry and enables me to "hear the mighty waters rolling evermore". Kevan and Tempest, like Wordsworth, address the soul-surfer in us all.

Jean Baudrillard, philosopher of the media age, assumed that all surfing was virtual – a product of the internet – and anything else just a Hollywood-engineered myth. Why Lawyers Should Surf not only reminds us that surfing is real, and feasible, but makes a strong case for it being a productive metaphor of our immersion in time and space. I don't know if it is going to make me a better surfer (it may be too late), but I am hopeful that I could become a better human being. And if the waters keep on rising, our souls really will have sight of Wordsworth's immortal sea, "though inland far we be", and surfing could turn out to be the key to survival.

XPL Publishing, £9.99. Order (free p&p) on 0870 079 8897

The book is also available on the Waterstones website here.For extracts from the book, click here.


Josh Lane said...

Congratulations on your Independent mention. It's well-deserved.

I hope your 2008 is off to a great start.

Happy New Year!

Peter Groves said...

Listened with interest on Charon's weekend review - and I'll check out the book as soon as I get a chance. I hope it's a great success.

Beach Bum said...

Is that the Andy Martin - the surfing "guru" who doesn't like our chilly waters?