'An enchanting tale of one man's search for snow, a report on the precarious state of our extreme climates, an evocative poem to lost childhood winters: I was gripped, from the first flakes to the final thaw - ' Joanna Kavenna 'This is a finely written and many-sided account of the fascination - both fearful and loving - that we have for snow. Charlie English deftly weaves together history, reportage, travelogue and memoir into a gentle, erudite and at times beautiful book.' Robert Macfarlane
In The Snow Tourist, Charlie English writes: "Snow is rarely, if ever, merely white. The angles and surfaces of snow crystals reflect and refract the different colours of sunlight that play upon them like the glass in a chandelier."
The book has something of this, too: like individual sparkles in a homogenous whole, each chapter is a self-contained travelogue with a distinct destination and a linked snow-related subject or history. Naturally some work better than others: English's stay with an Inuit family is fascinating and well drawn; the trip with his own family to Syracuse and New York much less so, perhaps because the chapter is slightly over-sentimental, describing things only really of importance to the author. But, strangely, this same open-hearted honesty is also the book's strength, as English gradually reveals the purpose of grounding his snow tourism in his love for his sons, and his father's suicide. Because this is also a larger story, about our nervous, urbanite, western lifestyle: "I had become cautious. I warned the children to stay back from the kerb, I worried about how much television they watched, and what they ate. I had become complicit in our risk-averse society. [My mountain guide] meanwhile, who had lost many friends in the mountains, still returned to them each day. Everyone must draw their own line which they will not cross. I had drawn mine, and it lay far short of where I expected it to be. I felt hollow."
English's cowardice there, in turning back from a ski tour, is a far more intriguing account than much current travel literature, with its daring deeds by those to whom, apparently, bravery comes easily. There is a real sense of loss as English realises that he is not the winter sportsman he had defined himself as, "who couldn't live without his fix of snow and physical challenges". His failure very clearly threatened to undo his entire undertaking and the book itself. But he struggles on with his journey, through Jack London's Alaska and Vienna, where Brueghel's skaters are displayed, and genuinely seems to learn as much about himself as them. The places he visits are sometimes perilously cold, but English's account is touchingly warm.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.