The Escape Artist: Life from the saddle, by Matt Seaton. Published by Fourth Estate, London in 2003.
It took me a little time to realise that this is the same Matt Seaton who writes the ‘two wheels’ column for the Guardian. A collection of these columns is available in book form and reviewed in this blog.
As I have said before, Matt Seaton is a great combination of cycling enthusiast and very able wordsmith. He is very clever with words and can use them to great effect.
Take his title as an example. Here, ‘the escape artist’ neatly bridges his early experience as an amateur racing cyclist and the darker and sadder second half of this book that deals with his wife’s fight against terminal cancer. Cycling for a time gives moments of escape from this grim reality.
Don’t get the impression, however, that this is a depressing book. Far from it. The early chapters are full of funny moments. You get some great detail on the business of being an aspiring road racer. Throughout the book the warmth of the family relations shines through. Even as events inevitably turn downwards and darker, the book lifts the spirit more than it depresses.
I have read this book several times and will read it again for sure. It’s a very fine book that reminds us that fine writing can help us deal with hard truths.
The Escape Artist: Life from the saddle, by Matt Seaton. Published by Fourth Estate, London in 2003. Recommended with 5 stars.
Matt Seaton’s profile page at the Guardian is here.