His tenacity and energy in the face of considerable adversity are apparent but only by reading between the lines of an overly self-deprecating account.
Explaining that he considers himself to be a completely daft obsessive wannabe Coleman tells the story of his various attempts to become an ocean-going rower. Giving us a brief account of his personal history which includes being bullied at school and finding it hard to get a fulfilling job, Coleman explains how the notion of becoming an adventurer took hold, following in the footsteps of modern romantic heroes such as Ranolph Fiennes and Patrick Leigh-Fermor.
His actual experiences sound horrendous, like all the bad parts of adventure with none of the triumph of success. He describes a doomed attempt to row from the Canary Islands to Barbados in a standard ocean-going rowing boat. What follows is a catalogue of errors including his doing absolutely no training for the challenge and picking a rowing partner whom he can’t stand. He then goes on to describe in graphic detail the gruesome effects of ocean-going rowing on the body, including showing some grim bottom rash pictures that are hard to forget.
Coleman’s story-telling style is slightly bland and his use of wonky laminates to illustrate the piece feels amateurish. He continually puts himself down and presents us with an image of him as a bumbling fool with a dangerous obsession that he can’t let go of. It’s laudable that he has the guts to present such a no-holds-barred account of his experiences but overall it’s fairly depressing to listen to someone be so brutally honest about their own shortcomings.
As the story continues Coleman does have some success. Despite being set back by exhaustion, depression and a life-threatening hip injury, he continues to pursue his dream of crossing the Atlantic and eventually does complete a shorter trip to Barbados. The piece remains fairly interesting but it would have been much better if had presented himself in a more positive light. His tenacity and energy in the face of considerable adversity are apparent but only by reading between the lines of an overly self-deprecating account; he does not give himself the credit he deserves.