cover image HELL OR HIGH WATER


Peter Heller, , read by Patrick Lawlor. . Tantor, $34.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4001-0141-2

To Buddhists, Tibet's Tsangpo Gorge is a sacred place—drinking one drop of its water is said to free you from rebirth as a lower life form. It was the inspiration for Shangri-La in the novel-turned-movie Lost Horizon and, to kayakers, it is one of the sport's last remaining holy grails: "three times deeper and eight times steeper than the Grand Canyon," it's the deepest river gorge in the world. Heller, a writer for Outside magazine, was tapped in January 2002 to accompany a team of kayakers who were giving the Gorge another try, led by filmmaker Scott Lindgren, who would later turn the experience into a movie (Into the Tsangpo Gorge ). Narrator Lawlor does a competent job presenting the ensemble cast; the seven men in the expedition each comes across in his own voice, and Lawlor's vocal dexterity is particularly impressive in the book's most thrilling sequence, a knife-point encounter with thieving locals. The mix isn't all that it could be, though. Lawlor's voice is thin in places and, at over 10 hours, the audio is too long and packed with too much detail for the casual listener. Adventure buffs, however, will savor the expansive, epic journey Heller and Lawler re-create here. Simultaneous release with the Rodale hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 16, 2004). (Nov. 2004)