Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Review : Beyond Birkie Fever (Walter Rhein)

Book:  Beyond Birkie Fever
Author:  Walter Rhein
Publisher:  Rhemalda Publishing

It's not every day you log into your mail and find a mail from a person living thousands of miles away from you. It was the last day of July when author, Walter Rhein sent me a mail for the first time. He came across this blog and few reviews here. He gave details about this book and asked me if I can review it.

Two things always stop me from reviewing books. First, when you start doing it regularly, you get a plenty of requests to do it. I neither have time, nor the zeal to read every other book that’s available in the market. Second, my reviews about a book are generally not good. Honest reviews have always brought troubles for me. Still out of curiosity, I visited amazon link of Walter's book, he shared to me in his mail. With the quoted price there, I was sure about one thing. 'I'm not going to review this book.' Moreover, I was not sure how much my review will help Walter. But, I knew I may be the only Indian, he must have asked to review his book. So, my reply would not only be mine, but will represent a nation. He will make a picture of India and its people from my reply. So, I replied him with my views few days later. He still asked me to review it; inquiring my address.

Almost a dozen of mails got exchanged after that before the book finally reached my address in the last week of September. Even before I could open the envelope with the book, the sender’s location brought a smile on my face. It's not every day you get an envelope with a US stamp on it. I opened the book a few days later.

Author's Bio from the book: Walter Rhein was born in northern Wisconsin. As he grew up, he developed a deep appreciation for cross-country skiing, the American Birkebeiner, and the Worldloppet circuit. His pursuit of international cross-country ski races sparked a powerful wanderlust that resulted in a ten year period spent living and working in South America. However, a true skier cannot resist the call of winter forever, and Rhein was recently relocated to Wisconsin, at least for the time being.

Beyond Birkie Fever is an adventurous journey of author, Walter Rhein in America's greatest cross-country ski race called American Birkebeiner. He shares with his readers how his journey as a skier changed since a kid of 7 years till date with details explaining his experiences beyond anything that one would ever hope to imagine! Let us dig out to find more about the book.

Every year, thousands of people journey from all over the globe to Hayward, Wisconsin, for a world-class celebration of life, winter and the competitive spirit. Prior to the race, local participants find themselves in the throes of a unique and natural euphoria. They thrill at the prospect of participating shoulder to shoulder with elite international competitors in a wild race through the great Northwoods wilderness. The book is a common person's Olympic ideal!

The cover page has an image of few skiers skiing with their full zeal, which surely goes with the book. Though I got this book shipped at my place, still if I would have noticed it at a bookstore, I would have picked up the book. However, there is some scope with the cover for improvement. The page quality is good. I have not read many paperback or hardbound books from foreign authors so can't comment about the standards followed in other countries.

When you start with the book, you find founder David Landgraf's account of the first Birkie. I would say it's a good idea to start a book like this. It's like giving a cricket lover, a book written on Cricket starting with the interview of Sachin Tendulkar. A straight six by the author on the first ball itself! Those who have been involved with ski races will surely appreciate it.

I found language used at the start of the book a little tough. Maybe, I felt so as being an Indian, I don't use words used by the author here in my daily talks. But, as you move with the flow, you find it to go smooth. Incidence one after another of the author's life keeps you moving with the flow of the book. Narration by the author is brilliant and would make you imagine yourself drown in the story. I belong to a country where there is not much snow. Still, I could imagine the plot very well. The part where author mentioned about his grandfather is really humorous. I didn't expect such a good end from the author after few setbacks with his health. Though, he fully convinced me with the end of the book.

At the end, I must say, it was a refreshing read for me as I have been continuously reading Indian plots. The author was tremendous in taking me to a different world. I would rate it a 4.25 on a scale of 5.

There are two drawbacks I found with this book. First, editing part could be taken better care of. Second, if the author wants to trap markets like India, he must reduce the price of the book. 

On a personal note, I would like to thank Walter Rhein for choosing me to read this book. His next book, 'The Reader of Acheron' is soon going to hit the market. I wish the author, all the best for his next book and other future endeavors.