More on "Travels with a Kayak"THE EDDIE TERN PRESS I started in 1979 (when word processing was a typewriter, whiteout and a pair of scissors). I liked climbing books, the reflections of the climbers. The Germans had put out some guide books suited for coffee tables but no one had put out a kayak book dedicated to just river stories. I self-published Does the Wet Suit You? The Confessions of a Kayak Bum. Naively I printed 5,000 copies that sold out in a little over a year. This was due to faulty glue in the binding. When read, the book fell apart and kayakers—being the cheapest species on earth couldn’t pass the book on and had to buy their own copy.

More on "Burning the Iceburg"Around this time I began commercial fishing and over eight years wrote Burning the Iceberg, a novel about sex, violence, and salmon. With the loose change I got from the kayak book I self-published it and although it didn’t make any best-selling lists it was good enough for Bristol Bay where it competed against—after the Playboys and Penthouses sold out—Good Housekeeping and Archie Comic Books.

That winter I wrote a letter to my skipper, that the only way to true success in Bristol Bay was to be a jerk but in weeks it morphed into How to Be a Jerk in Bristol Bay: An Abuser’s Guide. This time I didn’t have to wait for all the Playboys to sell which goes to show time, effort, and talent means nothing to a book’s success.

With deep but hole-flawed pockets I published, Travels with a Kayak, sort of a Does the Wet Suit You? 20 years later. It won the Benjamin Franklin Humor Award—which I wasn’t even aware of until someone wanted to order the book that won the award. The book didn’t butter my bread but at least put margarine on it.

More on "We Will Not Cease"This led me to publish We Will Not Cease by Archibald Baxter, the autobiography of a conscientious objector in WW1 from New Zealand. While kayaking New Zealand people kept recommending this book. It had an interesting publishing history and even Penguin had released it in Australia and New Zealand but not in the U.S. Twenty years later I ran across the book, read it again and thought the book was just as good as the first time I’d read it. So I bought the rights to publish it in North America, did so and fell flat on my face leaving the Eddie Tern Press with a two-digit figure on the bank statements, less than what it started with with Does the Wet Suit You?

In any event here is the write-up I did for the back cover (which the kiwis quickly borrowed and re-released another edition):

This book contains the record of my fight to the utmost against the power of the military machine during the First World War.

Against the backdrop of troops being mindlessly slaughtered at the whim of upper-echelon officers, We Will Not Cease is a story of extreme bravery and ultimate resolve. Archibald Baxter's lonely fight against "the war to end all wars" is a nightmare that Kafka could have penned--except that the story is true.

We Will Not Cease is the epoch record of New Zealander Archibald Baxter’s brutal treatment as a conscientious objector. In 1915, when he was 33, Baxter was arrested, sent to prison, then shipped under guard to Europe, where he was forced to the front line against his will. Punished to the limits of his physical and mental endurance, Baxter was stripped of all dignity, beaten, starved, and left for dead. In a final attempt to discredit him, authorities consigned him to a mental institution, an experience that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Long regarded as a classic, this book is as relevant today as it was when first published in 1939.

And tossing modesty aside, here are some of the reviews for Travels With a Kayak:

 
PLAYBOATING (Great Britain)
Whit Deschner, possibly canoeing’s most entertaining writer, has written a book about his `Travels with a Kayak’. It’s packed full of hilarious and sometimes horrific paddling stories, many of which seem way too far fetched to be true, even though we have it on good authority that such unbelievable things did really happen. If you think you’ve got great stories to tell. don’t open your mouth until you’ve read this book. You might well find your little escapades pale into insignificance compared to this man’s. There are some great old school photos in the book and plenty of useful information it you fancy doing a bit of traveling yourself. Travels with a Kayak had us laughing out loud all the way through. It’s superb.
 
 
Heather Gunn, Canoe & Kayak Magazine
If you think or want to believe that there truly may be something funny about nearly everything, then you must view the world of kayaking through the eyes of Whit Deschner in his new book, Travels With a Kayak. His hilarious stories are actually “stories where fiction and fact live recklessly in sin together.” It’s Whit’s way, we like it. And Even the copyright page is funny.
 
 
Jan Nesset, American Whitewater Journal
In writing the book, Deschner clearly had one purpose in mind: To make his readers laugh. He succeeds admirably! Travels With a Kayak is one of the funniest adventure travel books I have ever read.
 
 
Bob Gedekoh, Paddler

Have you ever ventured forth out of the cocoon of your local river scene? I don't mean a weekend jaunt from DC to West Virginia. I'm talking about the big trip: jumping on board a gas-guzzling silver bird; cramming your torso into the economy section in a way that would make a chiropractor cringe drinking or drugging yourself into oblivion after dining on plastic airline food; and finally uncoiling after an indeterminable amount hours at some Third World airport in the cloying heat of the night, accosted by manic taxi drivers, while throngs of brown-eyed, dark-skinned people stare in wonder at this thing--your kayak-you're dragging on the tarmac. If you've been there, read Travel With A Kayak by Whit Deschner. For those of you that haven’t, his zany travelogue will motivate you to go.

Buy this book. Whit's non-profit organization—himself—needs the money.

 
 
The late John Foss, author of "Chile Whitewater: A Rafting and Kayaking Guide", CANOEIST (Great Britain)
Travels With a Kayak is in a class of its own, dubious humour. Every last word needs to be read. Indeed, every first word, too, for it opens with a copyright which bans memorizing of the book and goes on with a list of exclusions of which a house insurance policy would be proud. The whole book is so full of twisted lateral thinking and word play that it is unwise to read more than a chapter at a time. Look forward to three weeks of zany entertainment.
 
 
Stuart Fisher, ESPACES (Quebec)
Changez votre sac à dos pour un kayak! vous dirait l'auteur de cetouvrage plein d’humour. De la Turquie à la Nouvelle-Zelande, en passant parl’Indonésie, le Japon, etc., ce livre nous raconte les aventures d'un homme quia fait de son kayak une deuxième peau. Les nombreuses photos qui illustrentcet ouvrage sont autant de témoignages éloquents sur l’art de vivre diffrémment, an gré de ses passions, et surtout sans limite.
 
 
Sue Handel, Wave Length Magazine
A hilarious account of heading off to exotic locations, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Turkey and well...the Grand Canyon too, Whit doesn't go anywhere without the love of his life— his whitewater kayak. His style is all about finding fun— or making it himself. No doubt, you'll learn a thing or two about the Kino River in Japan and the Sun Kosi in Nepal but you'll also find out how Whit and his cavalry manage to access these places and how the locals curiously accept them, but only for a short visit.
 

Canoe Magazine: 10 best adventure paddling books

6. Travels with a Kayak, by Whit Deschner
Whit Deschner is a paddler possessed of an irreverent and outrageous sense of humor. Some would say he's just possessed, period. His unusual travels around the world with a kayak have thrown him into all manner of strange encounters. Much of this cross-cultural hilarity is so ludicrous that you know it has to be true. But Deschner is even-handed, and no one is spared - least of all himself.

Amazon Customer Reviews:

 
Reader on Amazon.com

Humorous and a Great Read!

Have you ever ventured forth out of the cocoon of your local river scene? I don't mean a weekend jaunt from DC to West Virginia. I'm talking about the big trip: jumping on board a gas-guzzling silver bird; cramming your torso into the economy section in a way that would make a chiropractor cringe; drinking or drugging yourself into oblivion after dining on plastic airline food; and finally uncoiling after an indeterminable amount of hours at some Third World airport in the cloying heat of the night, accosted by manic taxi drivers, while throngs of brown-eyed, dark-skinned people stare in wonder at this thing--your kayak--you're dragging on the tarmac. If you've been there, read Travels With A Kayak by Whit Deschner. For those of you that haven't, his zany travelogue will motivate you to go.

Buy this book. Whit's non-profit organization--himself--needs the money. Maybe he'll even sign your copy like he did mine, "May all your dreams be wet."

 
 
Amazon UK

And yes, it was worth the wait!

Years ago Whit Deschner wrote the best book there is was or ever will be about kayaking. It's been years since my copy of "Does the wet suit You" fell apart and in that time there's been nothing to replace it. So this is one of those books you wait for and wonder...can it be worth it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is well, you either think he's hysterically funny or you'll find him boring and pointless. His solution to the problem "how do you write about a trip that everyone else has written about" (in this case the Grand Canyon), is ...different? And his description of the Alas in Sumatra is as flat as the bit he paddled (he should have done the upper gorges) but the book is excellent. Not for those of the politically correct brigade, those who are easily offended, or those without a sense of humour. This is international kayaking described in a humorous way that goes beyond the "we went, we paddled huge holes, we got drunk/scared we cheated death and came home" school of writing. It drifts from rivers to people to places in a way that means it might even be readable by that strange species of human being, the non kayaker.

 
 
Mark Rainsley

Don't Encourage this Man....., December 5, 1998

Bloody marvellous....funny, informative (although certainly not reliably so) and a kick up the backside of 1001 macho outdoor adventure books. Kayakers/ river-runners who don't already own this book should be taken out and shot.
I do worry somewhat about the author's sanity, and anyone who tries to take this in all at once may worry about theirs....

 
 
Ron Watters, Chairman of the National Outdoor Book Awards

The Best Book On Kayaking Ever Written: "Does The Wet Suit You?"

It's my most reread kayaking book. It's a: makes-me-wanna-go-paddle-now book (and no you can't borrow it). Does the Wet Suit You is the only book I've ever read that really captures what it's like to be addicted to this best of all possible pastimes. It describes all the crazy people and the weird and wonderful moments, never ever taking itself seriously.