When one thinks of an English teacher, the stereotype, uptight, prim and proper one comes to mind, if you live in the city. But when that educator is from the Wood River Valley, chances are her knowledge is backed up with a significant amount of action and adventure.
So it goes with former Wood River High School English-teacher-turned-author Jo Deurbrouck, who will be talking about her new book, “Anything Worth Doing,” on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. at Ketchum’s Community Library. She’ll also hit her old stomping grounds and touch base with students there.
The whitewater enthusiast said in an interview that the book is a true story about two larger-than-life whitewater raft guides in the Idaho wilderness who love their river runs more than their personal security.
“It’s about their lives, their journeys and the price they pay to live their dreams,” she said.
It’s a story about “what ifs” and picking the fork in the road and what destiny unfolds.
Deurbrouck said most people make compromises to try and balance their need to pursue their bliss while planning for the future as they are taught.
Clancy Reece, whose motto is “anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” and Jon Barker are a decade into their river-rat lives when things get really interesting. On June 8, 1996, in pursuit of a 24-hour speed record they intend to share only with a handful of friends, the men launch Reece’s handmade dory onto Idaho’s renowned Salmon River at peak flood of an extreme high-water year.
“Life becomes very simple and very beautiful.”
What unfolds is what critics have hailed as an adventure classic reminiscent of Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild.”
Deurbrouck, a former raft guide, carries readers down the West’s great rivers and into the hearts, minds and homes of that rare breed for whom security is optional but freedom and passion are not.
She says she became an adept river reader but nothing near the picture-perfect execution delivered by Reece and Barker that found them in and out of pickles that others dismissed like a dandelion seed on the wind.
“When you sleep beside the river at night, wake up in the pre-dawn cool to its voice and move at its pace all day, it’s easy to forget how cars, with their speed, compress space. Life becomes very simple and very beautiful.”
The meticulously researched novel took the author on a whole different but equally challenging journey, requiring 10 years to complete because she left no detail un-noted.
“Deliberately multiplying risk is unnecessary and it troubles me,” she says. “And yet almost despite myself, I want to celebrate it. It’s uniquely human, I think, to seek unnecessary challenges. To do so with discipline is beautiful. That’s what artists do, right? Ballet dancers. Opera singers. Tightrope walkers. Mountain climbers. Writers, for that matter.”
Ride the whitewater
What: Author speaks about river life and two guides in “Anything Worth Doing.”
When: Thursday, Nov. 8, 6 p.m.
How: Free at the Ketchum Community Library.