I received this lovely review of my book today from US paddler Moulton Avery. He doesn’t have his own website but wanted to share his thoughts on the book, so I thought I’d publish it here. Thanks Moulton! Cheers, FP
The Fat Paddler is just excellent; it’s a great, inspirational read, and I highly recommend it.
To say that this is primarily a book about sea kayaking, however, would be doing a disservice to Sean Smith’s lovely, candid, and moving story, because The Fat Paddler is about a whole lot more than paddling. It is, more than anything, a very personal account of loss and redemption, one that will speak volumes to anyone looking for inspiration or for insight and a leg up during a period of personal loss and adversity. Pain, injury, trauma, suffering, tragedy, loss, depression – they’re all here in good measure, but they’re more than offset by warmth, courage, self-deprecating humor, tenacity, elation, love, personal discovery, triumph, and the kindness of friends and strangers.
This isn’t just average loss that we’re talking about in Sean’s case, mind you, but near-catastrophic loss; the kind that drags a lot of people down so hard and fast that they never really recover. The path to his redemption prominently features a sea kayak, but there is much to be learned from his book whether or not one is a paddler. It spoke to me personally in a way that few books have in recent years, due in large measure, I suspect, because Sean and I share that same path to redemption. Sea Kayaking has been my harbor of refuge during a period of personal hardship that threatened to drag me down as well, and I found his book very moving and inspirational.
And also really funny. Like the time he’s paddling on the brink of exhaustion, struggling in to one of the checkpoints on the grueling Hawksbury Classic, and his ground crew is yelling stuff like “paddle faster next time you fat bastard”. No one survives alone, and Sean is no exception. He has the love and support of his lovely wife and daughters and a bunch of really fine Aussie mates, the sort that any of us would be lucky to count as family and friends.