Book Review — “Instant Karma – Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum”

Post by blogger | November 9, 2007      

It’s always fun when a ski book gets attention. Tome of the moment (selling well in Colorado) is Wayne Sheldrake’s “Instant Karma — The Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum.” I got an advance copy of this a few months ago and didn’t blog because it was a bit too advanced, but Sheldrake’s book is available now so here goes.

According to Greg Stump’s squib on the back cover, “Wayne’s obviously a freak, right up there with…well, me.” After watching a few old Stumpy movies just the other night, I wouldn’t go so far as putting Sheldrake on that exalted pedestal, but one has to draw an erie similarity between the Glen Plake nude desert monoski segment in Stump’s “Doctor Strangeglove” and Sheldrake’s lengthy but nonetheless amusing exposition of the “World Sand Speed Skiing Championships.”

Beyond dirt skiing, in all seriousness I can say that “Instant Karma” is a good read. It truly covers the gamut of the dedicated skier’s lifestyle, but not so much the sleep-in-your-truck days many of us went through at some point in life, but rather the battle between the finite limits of the human body with the infinite demands of skiing’s inherent physicality. In that vein Sheldrak goes beyond mere broken bones in his account of an epic heart surgery, and does so with introspection and soul that rises above what could have been a simple whine or heroic man-against-nature skreed. In other words, I’d call this book a “retrospective” that recounts the life of a man out here in the west, who structures his days around skiing but doesn’t ignore the rest of it.

And it’s not all serious. One example: A story of Sheldrake’s friend Ted taking an alfresco pee on a powder day and ending up with serious clothing issues. I leave the rest to your imagination — or you can read the book.


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5 Responses to “Book Review — “Instant Karma – Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum””

  1. Chase November 11th, 2007 12:55 pm

    Hey Lou,
    Nice artical in the latest issue of skiing mag.
    By the way, is that a retro NOLS issued jacket
    you were wearing on Danali. I think I had one of those
    jackets on my NOLS course.

  2. Lou November 11th, 2007 3:55 pm

    Yeah, that’s a NOLS Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Equipment expedition parka, thick Polarguard. It worked great. ‘best, Lou

  3. wayne sheldrake November 13th, 2007 8:25 am

    Thanks a bunch for the mention. It was great. I didn’t do the sleep in the truck thing until I was in my 30’s racing masters on a pair of outdated cracked-edge (remember that inovation?) Fischer RC4 slaloms (200cm) I bought in a second hand shop for $3 in Buena Vista. When I skied on them at the coldest National Championships in the history of mankind (1997, windchill -50) I met Peter Shelton who wrote a little piece in Men’s Journal where he pointed out I was definitely not sponsored and how slow I was. Racing is so boring to read about (especially if you’re slow) and no one will ever understand it anyway, so I cut that all out of the book.
    Cheers, Wayne

  4. Lou November 13th, 2007 8:43 am

    Hi Wayne, excellent to hear from the author! Thanks for the comment!

  5. Rob Moffat May 26th, 2010 8:17 pm

    I have read many books written about skiing by skiers , and this is the first book written on the subject by a gifted writer! I mean, the guy is a real word-smith! I found I would read passages over and over again because I liked the poetic cadence or the literal imagery! He really comes out with some profound philosophical musings and acute observations that could only come from a full-on bull-goose-loony! I hope he lives to write another one!

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