Tuesday, October 11, 2011

War & Piste - Snowboarding’s Heftiest Ever Novel

After scraping the sordid depths of the snowboarding world with last week’s smutfest we’ve gone all highbrow this week and are reviewing a book. Wear that, newly acquired and now thoroughly disappointed audience.
Normally when we review books we judge them almost solely on the cover and although this one has a nice enough cover what really drew our attention was the weight…

To set the scene let’s start with a snippet of a story from DaveTrott, advertising legend, blogger and book liker.
My first job in advertising in London was at BMP in Paddington.
We had a lovely old delivery-van driver called George.
George was a little, tubby, bald cockney with a gravelly voice.
He was always wheeling and dealing, always had slightly dodgy merchandise to sell.
One day George came round the creative department looking for me.
He said “Ere Dave, you like books don’t cha?”
I said I did.
He said “I’ve got some big books in the van, d’you wanna buy ‘em?”
I said it depended who they were by.
George said “I don’t know nuffink abaht that. But they’re three or four inches thick, abaht a foot wide, and two foot long. They ain’t half big. D’you wanna buy ‘em?”
At the time it seemed odd to me.
Did George really think size was the first consideration in buying a book?
Did he imagine bookshops were divided into two sections?
‘Big Books’, and ‘Little Books’.
If you like books a lot you go in the ‘Big Books’ section.
If you don’t like books much you go in the ‘Little Books’ section.

Good news book fans, this book’s a big’un.
I was expecting some light reading over the weekend when this monstrous paperback crashed through the door. War & Piste like its punsake is a meaty tome, it’s made up of 443 pages, about 162,000 words in small print and it weighs in at an awesome 581g.
People shown to scale
When I started to read the book I was in for a second shock because it was also immediately apparent that I wasn’t the target audience. This is a book for girls, it’s all about weird stuff like feelings and love and tears and hope and Jason Statham will not be playing the lead role in the movie adaption. I really should have swatted up before asking for a copy.
Here’s the bad thing though and it’s the second time this has happened to us. Remember that snowboarder there on the cover?
It's all lies - this is a book about skiing. The main character starts the season as a snowboarder but almost immediately (page 59, just 13% of the way through the book) gives it up to learn skiing for no good reason.
Leaving aside my bitterness at being falsely sold into reading a chick-lit book about a skier, the story was actually pretty good although I've very little click-lit reading experience to compare it to. It’s a faithful representation of living a season in the Alps. The main thing I learned from this book though is that girls experience seasons in a very different way to blokes. There is a whole parallel world of emotions and feelings that I had absolutely no idea existed and I’m thankful I've been managing to avoid it.
Wordle & Piste
It’s a slow read to boot so you get even more bang for your buck. Alex Thomas is not afraid of using very long sentences and they write in a strangely antiquated way reminiscent of a Jane Austin novel (not that I’ve read one of them either, but I did catch about five minutes of a TV adaptation and it sounded very similar, before I loaded up a DVD of Jason Statham’s latest exactly the same movie as the last one). Here’s an example sentence:
“Two years ago I would have considered redundancy a reasonably good break, but cardboard boxes on desks are all the rage in the City these days, and all the more so in Ireland where I had gone to university and had thought – naively it seems, for the Unemployed Eighties are upon us once again – that I could always go home someday.”
Now you might think that this kind of writing sounds like a bad thing, but surprisingly I quite liked it. The style of writing forces you to work at the tempo of the book drawing you into the story.
War & Piste Map
Lots of respect to the author for taking to time to write this book. A huge amount of work has gone into it and it’s always impressive to see someone turn a drunken blag into a finished product. I happened to be the wrong person to read the book, but there wasn’t anything wrong with the book itself. It was well written, well-paced and thankfully when you’ve worked your way through 851g of book it has a good ending. If you are a girl/skier, or a girl/seasonaire I would recommend it. The book is released this Thursday just in time to make it a very good Christmas present purchase. You can buy the book for £7.99, which for just £0.014 per gram is a great price.
Incidentally Dave Trott has a book out too. It is much smaller.

We were sent this book for free and after running this blog for four years this is only our second freebie. If you’ve ever considered starting a blog here’s something to consider. In a rough calculation, if we were getting paid the UK minimum wage for the work we’ve put into this we would have been paid about £7,000. If you take our two freebies into account we are now only running at a loss of £6,955.01. We should probably have written a book instead.

You Might Also Like…
Snowboard Propaganda For Kids – a review of some children’s books

The Way of the Snowboarder – The World’s Shiniest Snowboard Book 

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