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Cabin Pressure    by Josh Wolk order for
Cabin Pressure
by Josh Wolk
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This is a truly funny memoir about one man's reluctant acceptance that his youth was behind him and it was time to finally grow up - after one last forage into childhood and accompanying childhood memories. Josh Wolk, a writer for Entertainment Weekly, had attended overnight camp since he was eleven and then he trained to be a counselor. Wolk's wedding was scheduled for September, which he, at age thirty-four, equated with being TRULY grown up. He decided to spend his final summer as a single man working as a swimming instructor at the boy's camp he attended in Maine.

For people who have attended overnight summer camp (and I am not one of them), apparently, it's a little like early admission to a college fraternity. There are the cliques, the fights, the camaraderie, the trash-talking, the competitiveness, and of course, the friendships. Wolk's experience as a camp counselor in his thirties bought back not only fond memories of his own camper days, but it also dredged up the same insecurities of childhood and the same need to fit in and be popular with his bunk of fourteen year old boys and with the rest of the counselors.

Wolk gave everyone nicknames at camp, and that's how he referred to them throughout the book. The reader is introduced to a colorful cast of characters, who are all the more appealing because they are real people, with names like Clutchy, Mudge, Lefty, Dewey, Big B, the Rattler, Action, the Fog, Wind-Up, and Kid ADD. During this pivotal summer, Wolk reconnected with himself, but mostly, he realized that any attempt to recapture his youth was futile. Cabin Pressure contains some very funny, laugh-out-loud moments. The writing is not only witty but introspective. I look forward to more books from this very talented writer.

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