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Posted December 3, 2004
By Bill Marsano. One day New Zealander Graham Charles realizes that no one else has kayaked the Artarctic Peninsula, and so he rounds up two similarly experienced Kiwi paddle pals to join him on a 528-mile voyage that is so well-planned it's almost dusty. (The fourth author, Sarah Moodie, is a journalist involved only in the writing end.) The three men write a little about each other and a little more about the trip per se (this is not a text-heavy production), each taking for himself one section of the journey. All in all there's more hard work than drama here, at least partly because their planning (exemplified by an excellent chapter on equipment) precluded the endless death-defying adventures, mishaps and show-off machismo that are all too commonly the stock of books of the into-the-void variety. In short there are some thrills--but no <cheap> thrills. The gang's greatest drama, in fact, comes when they're in someone else's hands, being ferried back to Argentina. The prose is workmanlike and in all there's a rather muted emotional tone here: The paddlers seem to think the voyage is a bit of all right as a fairly extreme male-bonding experience, but clearly no one's actually obsessed with it. To pump the emotional temperature up a bit, Mme. Moodie is dragooned to staple on some sonorous and high-flown prose about the idealism of adventure: how man must needs go a-questing, a-daring the unknown, and how the race needs people test themselves. Jeez: There's even a Mission Statement! Adding this claptrap to a lot of sudden realizations of man's wee-tiny place in the vast universe occasionally made me long for George Mallory's empty-headed (but brief!) explanation of why he wan ted to climb Everest: 'Because it's there.' But then there are the photos. Many of them are so perfectly exposed and beautifully composed that they look like studio shots or Sierra Club posters. They make you wonder who carried the 8X10 view cameras--and who lugged Ansel Adams. I'd like to see these shots three times as big and three times as many. They're perfect for winter dreaming by the fire with your feet up and some wine at your elbow. You can stare at them until you fall right into the frame.--Bill Marsano is an award-winning editor and writer whose own kayaking voyages fill only pages, not books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2009
The trio of authors are New Zealanders, with Charles the photographer. With the journalist Moodie, they do a journal of their incredible kayak trip around the Antarctic Peninsula jutting out toward South America. Charles's dramatic photos shift back and forth between shots of the kayaking and camping, and the forbidding, rugged, yet entrancing Antarctic landscape. The journal records the hardships and satisfactions on the challenging trip. The section 'Equipment' following the text and photos lists the varied gear and supplies needed for the trip--which list in itself testifies to the uniqueness of the physical challenge and the hardships the kayakers had to overcome by careful preparation, ingenuity, and determination.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.