Synopses & Reviews
Mike May spent his life crashing through. Blinded at age three, he defied expectations by breaking world records in downhill speed skiing, joining the CIA, and becoming a successful inventor, entrepreneur, and family man. He had never yearned for vision. Then, in 1999, a chance encounter brought startling news: a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery could restore Mays vision. It would allow him to drive, to read, to see his childrens faces. But the procedure was filled with gambles, some of them deadly, others beyond Mays wildest dreams. Beautifully written and thrillingly told, Crashing Through
is a journey of suspense, daring, romance, and insight into the mysteries of vision and the brain. Robert Kurson gives us a fascinating account of one mans choice to explore what it means to see-and to truly live.
Praise for the National Bestseller Crashing Through:
“An incredible human story [told] in gripping fashion . . . a great read.”
“[An] astonishing story . . . memorably told . . . May is remarkable. . . . Dont be surprised if your own vision mists over now and then.”
“[A] moving account [of] an extraordinary character.”
“Terrific . . . [a] genuinely fascinating account of the nature of human vision.”
-The Washington Post
“Kurson is a man with natural curiosity and one who can feel the excitement life has to offer. One of his great gifts is he makes you feel it, too.”
-The Kansas City Star
“Propulsive . . . a gripping adventure story.”
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
In his critically acclaimed bestseller Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson explored the depths of history, friendship, and compulsion. Now Kurson returns with another thrilling adventure-the stunning true story of one man's heroic odyssey from blindness into sight.
Mike May spent his life crashing through. Blinded at age three, he defied expectations by breaking world records in downhill speed skiing, joining the CIA, and becoming a successful inventor, entrepreneur, and family man. He had never yearned for vision.
Then, in 1999, a chance encounter brought startling news: a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery could restore May's vision. It would allow him to drive, to read, to see his children's faces. He began to contemplate an astonishing new world: Would music still sound the same? Would sex be different? Would he recognize himself in the mirror? Would his marriage survive? Would he still be Mike May?
The procedure was filled with risks, some of them deadly, others beyond May's wildest dreams. Even if the surgery worked, history was against him. Fewer than twenty cases were known worldwide in which a person gained vision after a lifetime of blindness. Each of those people suffered desperate consequences we can scarcely imagine.
There were countless reasons for May to pass on vision. He could think of only a single reason to go forward. Whatever his decision, he knew it would change his life.
Beautifully written and thrillingly told, Crashing Through is a journey of suspense, daring, romance, and insight into the mysteries of vision and the brain. Robert Kurson gives us a fascinating account of one man's choice to explore what it means to see-and to truly live.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Robert Kurson earned a bachelors degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, then a law degree from Harvard Law School. His award-winning stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine
, and Esquire
, where he is a contributing editor. Crashing Through
is based on Kursons 2006 National Magazine Award-winning profile in Esquire
. He is the author of Shadow Divers
, and he lives in Chicago. Visit the authors website at www.robertkurson.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
Reading Group Guide
1. Mike has often said that his life story is as much about his mother as it is about himself. Why is this?
2. Do you think you would allow your children to take the risks that Ori Jean allowed Mike to take?
3. Mike complied a big list of reasons to decline new vision. He could list only one reason to go forward: curiosity. Why was curiosity so important to Mike?
4. There came a time when Mike's struggle with his new vision became so difficult that he nearly destroyed his anti-rejection medication. Why didn't he simply let his vision go and return to his very full and satisfying life as a blind person?
5. Mike chose not to read about his predecessors in history, all of whom seemed to suffer a profound depression for having dared to see after a lifetime of blindness. Why did he ignore these case histories?
6. How would you describe Mike's new vision? Is it what he, and the scientists, expected? How is his sight different from traditional sight, and what challenges does his new vision pose?
7. Robert Kurson describes the world Mike sees as similar to a modern abstract painting. How is this so?
8. Describe Mike's relationship with his wife, Jennifer, before and after the surgery. What challenges does his vision pose in their relationship?
9. Early in MIke's new vision, he is astonished to learn that highay signs hang over the road and that stop signs aren't yellow. What are some other visual aspects of our world that sighted people take for granted and never discuss?
10. How do Mike's children react to their father's new vision? Was it what you expected? Was it how you would expect your children to react? Is it how you might have reacted if it was your father who came home with new vision?
11. Why do you think those pateints who came before Mike had such bad results emotionally? Why do you think Mike's results were so different?
12. In what ways, if any, was Mike worse off for gaining vision? Were there things he saw that he wished he hadn't seen?
13. Were you surprised at Mike's reactions to the sight of certain things? The homeless? The heavyset person in Costco?
14. Dr. Ione Fine must teach Mike to do a lot of "cognitive heavy lifting" in order to make sense of what he sees. What is meant by this? How does Mike teach himself to see?
15. The book often stresses that vision is dependent on knowledge. How is that possible? What is the implication for Mike's new vision?
16. If you were in Mike's place, and given all the risks he faced, would you have gone forward with new vision?
17. Discuss the significance of the titles Crashing Through. Have you ever had a similar experience in your own life, of meeting challenges by throwing yourself headlong into a risky adventure?