Picks and Pans Review: Learning to Fly
by Sam Keen
Imagine disrupting your pleasant but mundane life and training to become—ta dah!—a flying trapeze artist. Now imagine doing it at the age of 61. That's the unlikely adventure at the heart of this invigorating memoir by Keen, author of the 1991 bestseller Fire in the Belly (a treatise on manhood). A former religion professor, Keen embraces his scary new obsession with such joyful abandon that it's all but impossible not to pull for him as he wedges his aching body into tights and tries, again and again, to fly.
At times, Keen lays on the spiritualism a bit heavily. The planges, splits and other trapeze tricks he attempts seem far less exhausting than his relentless soul-searching ("something in my DNA," he writes, "has destined me to become a butterfly"). In the end, however, Keen's Roberto Benigni-like sense of wonder is as winning as a flawless triple spiral. (Broadway, $23)
Bottom Line: Memoir that truly soars