Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jason Roberts

Something terrible has happened to my eyesight in the last couple of years. A trip to the optometrist revealed this development is just another one of the many horrors related to the inevitability of aging. Bad eyesight, that is destined to only get worse. How lovely.

I'll never forget how the optometrist peered into my eyes with that funny looking headlamp strapped to his forehead, squinting as he said, "I'm surprised you've gotten away with not wearing glasses for this long." He flicked off the light and stared at me in a peculiar way. "It must be difficult for you to put on your eye make-up," he commented with a wry smile.

I responded that I'd never noticed any real difficulty in that department, but thanks for the concern.

His amusement at my expense became clear when,  after arriving back in my car with newly purchased over-the-counter reading glasses, I peered into the rear view mirror for a closer look. At that moment I learned why some people pay to have their eyebrows plucked. Thankfully, I have a good sense of humor, without it I would have most definitely burst into tears at the realization that I had been walking around in public (for how long now?) with eyebrows that look they'd been ravaged by insects.

Well, if you think it's difficult to pluck eyebrows with diminished vision, just try traveling around the world without any vision at all. That's what Jason Roberts so deftly illuminates in
A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became the World's Greatest Traveler

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this vibrant biography of James Holman (1786–1857), Roberts, a contributor to the Village Voice and McSweeney's, narrates the life of a 19th-century British naval officer who was mysteriously blinded at 25, but nevertheless became the greatest traveler of his time. Holman entered the navy at age 12, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. When blindness overcame him, Holman was an accomplished sailor, and he engineered to join the Naval Knights of Windsor, a quirky group who only had to live in quarters near Windsor Castle and attend mass for their stipend. For many blind people at the time, this would have been the start of a long (if safe) march to the grave. Holman would have none of it and spent the bulk of his life arranging leaves of absence from the Knights in order to wander the world (without assistance) from Paris to Canton; study medicine at the University of Edinburgh; hunt slavers off the coast of Africa; get arrested by one of the czar's elite bodyguards in Siberia; and publish several bestselling travel memoirs. Roberts does Holman justice, evoking with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as "The Blind Traveler." (June)

If you need a great book, and an inspiring story to get you going. Read this one.

To read more reviews and interesting commentary about books and life in general check out Jason's website. Jason is also a brilliant musician. Next time you're up in Squaw and you are wondering who Jason Roberts is, he's the guy playing the stand up bass.


National Book Critics Circle Award
#3 Nonfiction Bestseller
S.F. Chronicle (No. California)

A Best Book of the Year:
Washington Post
San Francisco Chronicle
Kirkus Reviews
Saint Louis Post-Dispatch
Rocky Mountain News (Denver)
School Library Journal


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I have enjoyed putting together our little bookstore up in Squaw Valley over the past four years. We love our bookstore and it has been your support that makes it all possible, so Thank You!

I have received many requests for an online SVCW Bookstore. Some who miss us when they are away, and others who are just tired of lugging all those hardcovers around on airplanes. There are also those writers who are honest about being broke and needing to purchase books at Amazon's discounted prices. As fellow writers, we understand your pain!

For these reasons I thought it would be fun to try our hand at a SVCW Books and Authors blog. I will track down our authors and past participants and post their books, news, reviews and information and link our SVCW books to Amazon. Ten percent of every book purchased through our blog will help support the bookstore. I am looking forward to building an online archive of the outstanding collection of books represented by authors who frequent the Community of Writers.

Thanks for visiting our Community of Writers blog!

Community of Writers Onsite Bookshop Manager