Vail-set novel misses the mark
A Season in Vail: He Came to Ski and Discovered More”
Written by: Steve Baska.
Story: A lawyer from California picks up and moves to Vail to ski.
Cost: $2.99 for kindle, $9.95 for paperback on Amazon.
Grade: One and a half stars.
If you’re looking for a light, easy read about skiing in Vail, Steve Baska’s “A Season in Vail: He Came to Ski and Discovered More” will offer just that. But nothing more.
The story follows Los Angeles attorney Tom Woods as he relocates to Vail after nearly dying in a courtroom shooting.
It sounds intriguing enough, but the melodramatic and poorly paced story reads more as a low-budget television movie than a drama novel.
The story is full of cliches; the lawyer that has it all but isn’t satisfied, the eye-opening event and the drastic life change are all present here. Unfortunately, they’re not crafted with any finesse beyond that.
The story is plain and predictable — I knew how it would end before I finished the first chapter. In fact, knowing that someone in a similar situation to the protagonist wrote it, I knew how it would end before I finished the author’s note.
Love of skiing
A cheesy story and cliche writing can be overlooked in some circumstances, as I said, if you’re looking for a light read to reflect your love of skiing and of the Vail Valley. However, when a cheesy story and cliche writing is paired with grammatical errors, it’s tough to enjoy a read. Baska is an attorney and a former journalist himself, so seeing such errors in a published (and presumably edited) book was fairly shocking.
All of that being said, it was clear that Baska did his research. The author’s note explains that while the story is fictional, the numbers and other data figures in the story were completely true. In fact, the second chapter begins with six paragraphs of numbers and statistics, proving that Baska really has a passion for skiing beyond just the sport itself. The statistics weren’t part of the story, but a bit of a sidebar to include some context.
The story was also crafted after interviewing Vail locals as well as ski instructors and other professionals, so it’s safe to say the book is, at the very least, accurate.
Baska lived in West Vail for a season from 1978 to 1979, working at Gorsuch and Eagles Nest, so the story and its setting are both genuine and passion-filled.
However, some of the facts that are used within the story seem to just be word vomit included to prove the author’s knowledge.
For example, early in the book, Woods travels from Denver International Airport to Vail. For the next several paragraphs, Baska mentions in too much detail sights that his character sees along the way: Red Rocks Amphitheater, the house from Woody Allen’s “Sleeper,” Georgetown and more. The paragraphs include irrelevant information (such as the fact that Georgetown is the setting of several movies, including one made for television) that completely pulls a reader out of the story.
If you’re able to tolerate the literary sins mentioned above and you’d like to read something set in Vail, you might find enjoyment in Baska’s “A Season in Vail.” However, if you’re more type-A and looking for a page-turner, this isn’t the story for you.