Sometime in the late 1990s I signed my son into a kayaking course and then decided to join myself. It became a passion.I joined groups of kayakers on the Thames, on the South Coast, in the Alps. I joined the local canoe club in Verona and got a whole new sense of the city, paddling under its ancient bridges. I found myself fascinated by the water, particularly Alpine river water tumbling over rocks, by the whole problem of handling fear, and by the curious dynamic I came to recognize in groups of kayakers. For them it is more than a sport, there is something almost religious about it, or at least, as they see it, morally positive. Rapids is the story of a group of kayakers who take a trip in the South Tyrol, the German-speaking area of Italy. At the core of the book are a couple of instructors who are breaking up, a man becoming obsessed with global warming, an unhappy widower, and an almighty mountain rainstorm that upsets all their plans. The fun of the book was handling a dozen characters of different ages and backgrounds. The challenge was to describe water, fast- flowing, noisy, dangerous, magnificent water.

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