For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

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Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Book Review by Claire Walter - Beserk in the Antarctic

Berserk in the Antarctic
By David Mercy

Lyons Press 2004

David Mercy and I keep crossing paths—figuratively, not literally. Our most recent encounter was in the pages of Berserk in the Antarctic. I bought the book about crossing the stormy Drake Passage in a 27-foot sailboat at London’s Heathrow Airport for transatlantic reading. I knew about the hair-raising experience that David wrote about because Telluride Mountain Film had presented a primitive Norwegian documentary about it a few years ago. (The film won the People’s Choice Award at the 2001 Banff Mountain Film Festival and, if I could have voted at Telluride, I would have selected it too.) In any event, that film particularly resonated because when the Berserk made it to Antarctica, the trio encountered a red-hulled ship called the Disko. My husband and I had traveled to Antarctica across the Drake Passage on the Disko a few years earlier.

David is the kind of traveler I kind of wish I were (or at least wish I had been when I was younger). In truth, I never have had the courage to backpack to places just because I have never been there. David is. He seizes any cheap opportunity to achieve his travel desires, like climbing aboard the Berserk. His opportunity came in Ushuaia, Argentina, where he met Jarle Andhøy, the 19-year-old Norwegian owner of the boat, who had already single-handedly sailed across the Atlantic, and an Argentinean named Manuel, who turned out to be prone to seasickness.

After Berserk’s near-death crossing of the Drake Passage, Manuel sought asylum on the Disko, willing to do anything to avoid setting out again on the 27-footer. Even after Manuel bailed, so to speak, Jarle and David kept sailing through Antarctic waters, dodging icebergs and getting up close and personal with whales, seals, and penguins. Eventually, the Berserk limped back to South America. Jarle kept on going. His boat finally sank off the Chilean coast, with Jarle escaping in a rowboat. Ironically, the Disko later ran aground off the coast of Greenland, 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle, also with no loss of life.

David Mercy’s telling of this whale of a tale is funny, colorful, and occasionally poignant, and his book is a quick, easy, and compelling read. There might be another book in his future. It seems that he, Jarle and a couple of other Norwegians are now on a round-the-world adventure. They are sailing on Jarle’s new steel-hulled boat, the Berserk II, with a comically menacing shark face painted on the bow. Videos and the Captain’s log are available at
www.wildvikings.com, for this is a considerably higher-tech voyage.

– Claire Walter
CLAIRE WALTER is an award-winning Colorado-based journalist and author, specializing in travel, snowsports and food. Her website is http://www.claire-walter.com/ and her highly regarded travel blog is at http://travel-babel.blogspot.com/.


Anonymous said...

I'm a traveler, too, though in a much more constrained and "civilized" manner. Thirty feet of Winnebago make for a variety of restrictions ... the wildest I've done, I think, was the Beartooth Highway from Yellowstone to Montana. That was sufficiently challenging for me! Of course, I travel with a dog and cat, which would keep me from the freedom of this author, or your motorcycle, even if I had the courage to try. Nonetheless, we all enjoy the glories of creation and nature as we travel in our own way!

Donna D said...

Thanks for the interesting review Claire. It's very inspiring, especially since I am fast becoming a world traveler myself. I'm not going into any uncharted waters, but I will be spending 6 weeks in Lithuanian next summer. I've been doing a lot of reading in the travel narrative genre lately, and I'm definitely adding this book to my wish list!

ClaireWalter said...

Glad you found the review and the book interesting. For travel reading, I love anthologies, because if you put them down for months, you can pick up with the next story. The Travelers' Tales books are subject- or destination-specific, which I like. I also look forward to the annual "Best Travel Writing of 20XX" book (ditto "The Best Food Writing of 20XX."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, Claire. I too enjoy anthologies, for exactly that reason. For those interested in more Antarctic stories, Susan Fox Rogers is promoting her new anthology "Antarctica: Life on the Ice." And it's published by Travelers' Tales:)

Anonymous said...

What a service you're providing to writers nationally and locally, Rosemary, by posting all these great reads. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work.

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