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Cover of First Chapter Of The Best Water Skier In Luxembourg

A journey that supporters of Unbound can fund one chapter at a time

Help me fund my book about big fish in small ponds one chapter at a time.

What am I planning for chapter one?

The Best Water Skier In Luxembourg - Tales Of Big Fish In Small Ponds will recount my encounters with those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of excellence in small worlds.

As a first step I am asking for your help to research and write the first chapter, to find the best water skier in Luxembourg.

The internet doesn’t reveal who he/she is, but there are a few water skiing clubs in the country and in 1961 16 year old Sylvie Hülsemann won the world water skiing championship under controversial circumstances. As well as finding today’s best water skier I will attempt to track Sylvie down and hear her story directly.

Once Mission Luxembourg has been funded and completed, my aim is to fund the following expeditions to find:

  • – The Icelandic special forces

  • – The top bassoonist in Finland

  • – The most popular heavy metal band in Botswana

  • – The most powerful politician on St Helena

  • – The greatest living Surinamese novelist

  • – Malta’s favourite soft drink

  • – The greatest living expert on Cornish

How you can help

This is not a solitary quest and I will need all the help I can get.

First, I need to know more about water skiing, Luxembourg and water skiing in Luxembourg. Can you offer me advice? Could you introduce me to people? Do you already know the best water skier in Luxembourg? Could you donate incentives? I’d love to hear from you.

Second – and most importantly - I need to raise £2,000 to cover the research trip, writing and design of Chapter 1 (which will be 8 – 10,000 words long). The list of rewards listed opposite show you exactly what you get for pledging. Everyone who supports a chapter will get a discount on the finished book when all eight chapters are complete.

I am a 39 year-old sociologist with a modest reputation. Throughout my life I have yearned to be the best at something. But I am not a genius and so I’ve adjusted my ambitions. When people ask me what I do, I offer the answer (tongue firmly in cheek) that 'I am the best water skier in Luxembourg'. In fact, I’ve never been to the Grand Duchy or been towed behind a boat. I’m an academic and my two areas of expertise are heavy metal and the Anglo-Jewish community.

I want to make this journey to uncover what Brian Eno calls 'scenius',– the creativity that is unleashed within groups. I am in awe of the single-minded commitment that members of small or obscure communities often demonstrate (and I imagine the water skiers of Luxembourg are about as obscure as they come…).

This isn’t an extract from the book. But it is an example of how small special interest groups create weird and arresting stuff.


Talking about The Best Water Skier in Luxembourg

Monday, 16 April 2012

I'll be talking about the Best Water Skier in Luxembourg at the Poltroon Literary Salon at the Betsy Trotwood on 17 April 2012. Feel free to come along!

Keith Kahn-Harris commented on this blog post.

I've been to Luxembourg!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Last December I visited Luxembourg and met loads of water skiers and wakeboarders.

I'm not busy writing the chapter.

I made it to Luxembourg

Monday, 12 December 2011

So I am in Luxembourg!

Having a very busy time and uncovering lots of interesting water skiing related stories (seriously). I've also bought souvenirs and postcards for those who paid for them.

Stay tuned for further updates or follow me on twitter @KeithKahnHarris

Keith Kahn-Harris commented on this blog post.

Interview about the book

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I'm interviewed, together with Unbound co-founder John Mitchinson on the Little Atoms podcast:

Video of Sylvie Husselmann - former world champion - in action

Monday, 10 October 2011

I found a Pathe newsreal featuring Sylvie Husselman, Luxembourg's 1961 world champion water skier, in action in the 1968 world championships in Ruislip.

She came second in the slalom and The announcer introduces her with the immortal words: 'carving out some shapely curves in the women's event'. She also appears to have won the 'figure skiing' event that year (although I've never seen this mentioned…

Do I need to talk to you?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Let me know here if there is something about water skiing or Luxembourg that you think I should know about.

Could this be him?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I found a link to this tantalising video on the Luxembourg Water Ski and Wakeboard Federation Facebook page.

It's a news report on Luxembourg TV about what I think may be the national Wakeboarding championships:

Wakeboarding is similar to water skiing, but a little trendier!

I don't speak the language  - could anyone translate for me?

Luxembourgish in other languages

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

As part of my project I've been trying to learn a little Luxembourgish - or Lëtzebuergesch as it is known in the language itself.

It's one of the three official languages of Luxembourg (with French and German) and until recently was the language of everyday life but not of literate culture. The first Lëtzebuergesch films and novels appeared only in recent decades. 

Lëtzebuergesch is sometimes…

Clarification about the whole book

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

I wanted to clarify one thing:

if you support this or any future individual chapter of The Best Water Skier in Luxembourg, you will get a considerable discount on the eventual book. Indeed, it is possible that at some point we will abandon chapter-by-chapter funding and just go for funding the whole book. At this stage though, the nice folks at Unbound and I want to get this chapter 100% funded…

And we're off!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

I'm really excited that the pitch for The Best Water Skier in Luxembourg is now up on Unbound.

I'm really grateful to everyone who has supported me so far - the percentage of the book funded is growing all the time!

Just a reminder that if anyone wants to send me information about water skiing, Luxembourg or any of my future 'missions', then you can contact me on

I look…

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