This adventure tale reads like a travel diary: lots of sentence fragments and a spare prose. This approach creates a sense of immediacy that really moves the narrative along. There is no questioning Starkell's remarkable achievement; however, his seemingly incorrigible lack of self-awareness, his belligerence toward his traveling companions, and his reckless risk-taking ultimately paint a portrait of a highly driven but unlikable individual who can mostly attribute his survival to sheer luck. Moreover, his hero-worship of the European explorers who perished seeking the elusive North West Passage and his grudging (but growing) respect for the Inuit who have lived and thrived in the Arctic for generations serve to highlight a distasteful and decidedly colonial perspective that shouldn't have been so comfortable for the author - even in 1990. Not sure I'll seek out his other work.
I echo Deborah Blow's comments regarding kayaking safety. As an experienced kayaker, I find Don Starkell's actions reckless and a poor example of leadership. Furthermore, the "diary" type writing of this book made it very boring and uninteresting to read. I won't be reading his previous book.
After Reading "Kabloona & the Yellow Kayak" , a woman's voyage through the North West Passage, I have a fairly low opinion of Don Starkell. And as I kayaker I certianly wouldn't look to him as a safe example to follow either, as he went unprepared and often ignored local advise regarding conditions & best routes. I do though highly recommend "Kabloona & the Yellow Kayak"
I havn't read his first book Paddle to the Amazon, but I will in the future thanks to this amazing book. I thought that the book, adventure journal, held together rather good and maintained the pace aswell as the anxiety to a degree that was sufficient to keep me engaged and yet appreciate the danger and his persistence/maddness for taking on such a collosall endeavour. In my opinion Starkell has more persistence and motivation than is wise because he is lucky to be alive (he is a mess of nubs and stubs and limps). I expected him to succumb repeatedly in his account. Who goes to the arctic and doesn't anticipate pressure craks in the sea ice when you come from Manitoba a place half underwater or on its edge or us a tarp for a tent, no spare tent polls or even foot ware other than tennis shoes or rubber boots?!! Good suspense for sure!!
I didn't enjoy it as much as Paddle to the Amazon, but I was still intrigued throughout. I couldn't believe how tough Starkle was to go through all of this!
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