Being asked to review a mate’s book is a tricky place to sit. The author knows my propensity to ‘dish up’ comments freely for and against issues close to my heart, so I am sure he did it with his own trepidation. For me there was the concern about how does one handle the review if the book isn’t up to par.
Not being a professional book reviewer I can only relate my view of it. When reading, something I do a lot of, I don’t judge by a scientific criteria into what makes a good book. To me a good story / book is about the journey. Does the book take me places that stir emotions, where time is lost in my day without any recognition of what is around me? Does it invoke images in my head, scenes that I can see and feel as if real?
Does it hold together and is it easy to read? For me that is the nature of a good read. It tells a story well.
So what about The Fat Paddler? What sort of story and book is it?
Knowing small pieces of the story first hand, I wondered how would it read, would it stand out as something I would want to read, would it fill the criteria that I wanted in a book? Would I skim over parts of the book that I already knew of and just fill in the blanks?
As it turned out, I read the first chapter at my desk at work, and had to force myself to put it down. Annoyed, I put it in my bag so I could finish my day and took it home. Late that night I finished the whole story.
It isn’t the first time I have read a book cover to cover in a day, but it isn’t every book I read that it happens with. Admittedly it isn’t a Shogun size volume, but it is not a primary school primer either.
It hooked me and dragged me in. I had no desire to put it down until I had uncovered every part of the story.
Knowing small parts of the story only made it more interesting; in the same way a trailer to a good movie just leaves you wanting to dive right in.
The Fat Paddler is a story about real life. The sort of real life that smashes into you at a million miles an hour. Not a gentle gracious life of high teas and ballroom evenings. More the type of gritty suburban lives that don’t start or end the way you expect nor often want, but the type that many people live.
This story won’t tell you how a young athlete set goals and made it to the Olympics, nor will it be the next replacement for a Doctor Phil self help book.
It will inspire you though.
It is about the reality of surviving amongst your own personal dilemmas. It is about hanging onto whatever passion you can find in life, about finding something that keeps you wanting to be a little better tomorrow when today felt so bad.
The book revolves around kayaking and where kayaking fits into the current life of the author, but this book isn’t a quintessential book on kayaking nor a book about sport. While Sean’s life has been filled with sporting moments, and it is obviously important to him, this is a life story, a story that anyone could relate to easily.
What makes the book easy to read is that every time you are confronted by the dark moments in the story, there is a lighter side to it that reflect the ups and downs that we all go through in moments of hardship. In every unbearable moment there he is grabbing onto a straw of some sort that gives him something to focus on and drag his heavy carcass out of the depths of despair.
I know Sean personally. He is a big man, with a big heart and to be honest I was totally inspired when I witnessed him finish his first Hawkesbury challenge. Back then I only knew part of this story. Having read the book, I underrated how big a man he is. Not in size, but in character.
Throughout the narrative in the book, he doesn’t labour for long on the hardships he has faced, just tells them in an honest and direct way, and then goes on to explain how he moved on.
This book is about small steps. Little steps, full of big efforts. The sorts of steps that real people need to take to get through hard days. You don’t feel like this is a superhero story that isn’t close to the people around you, in fact it seems like the story of three of four people you may have met. That’s what makes it even more engrossing.
This book will take you from Intensive care wards to Alaskan ice lakes, hot chilli sauce to the terror of the Bali bombings. A thoroughly good read and an amazing story for someone still so young.
I rate it 4.5 sausages! (out of 5)
Well that’s what Ireckon anyway
If you want to get a copy of the book, visit Sean's site www.fatpaddler.com and follow through from there.