Could it really be ‘Wickedly funny’?
A couple of weeks ago, I read a new book called ‘War and Piste’. I’ll be honest with you, I was expecting the worst from this ‘wickedly funny diary of a ski season’.
When I ran Natives, I used to receive regular emails from season workers who had written a book about seasonal life. In the vast majority of cases, these books were never published.
That was probably for the best: as Christopher Hitchens once noted: ‘Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.’
Previous ‘ski season’ books
A few did make it into print however. ‘Cham’ by Jonathan Trigell is an excellent book. A well written drama set in Chamonix that manages the unlikely combination of convincing ski sequences, a short history of the Romantics and a rapist on the loose, it’s worth a read for any snow lover.
‘It’s All Part Of The Alpine Experience‘ is also set in Chamonix, but that is as far as the comparison to ‘Cham’ goes. This book drove me mad with its continual typos and factual errors. By the end you did understand the author’s passion for the town, but unless you are a Chamonix-obsessive I’d let this one go.
More entertaining, if a trifle weird, was ‘Clamped‘. This is set in the season worker milieu, this time in Courchevel, and involves some bizarre shenanigans on and off piste. It’s worth a read (although maybe not at the £15 that Amazon are currently quoting for it).
Finally, ‘The Chalet Girl‘ is complete trash. Chick-Lit-Lite.
Damn fine entertainment
Which brings us to ‘War and Piste’. At 443 pages, my first thought was that it probably hadn’t been edited sufficiently. I was also expecting another identikit Chick-Lit romance.
But you know what? It’s actually damn fine entertainment. And I’d go even further and say it’s the best portrayal of seasonal life I’ve ever read.
Okay, it will probably be slightly more entertaining for the the ladies than chaps, but if you’d done a season – no matter where – you’ll recognise these characters: the chef who’s been blagging and does a runner; the hyper-tense resort manager who inspects reps’ nails before transfer day; the Don Juan area manager flitting from resort to resort; the Swedish ski bums who live in a campervan.
I could go on, but you know what, just go out and get yourself a copy. If you’ve done a season already, you’ll want to get out there again. If you haven’t, well watch out…!
By Iain Martin