Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Memoirs”

Amanda6′s #CBR4 Review 42: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Description from Amazon: “Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed journalist and author of the bestseller Into the Wild. On assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the mountain, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, the most respected high-altitude guide in the world.  A rangy, thirty-five-year-old New Zealander, Hall had summited Everest four times between 1990 and 1995 and had led thirty-nine climbers to the top. Ascending the mountain in close proximity to Hall’s team was a guided expedition led by Scott Fischer, a forty-year-old American with legendary strength and drive who had climbed the peak without supplemental oxygen in 1994. But neither Hall nor Fischer survived the rogue storm that struck in May 1996.

Krakauer examines what it is about Everest that has compelled so many people — including himself — to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense. Written with emotional clarity and supported by his unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer’s eyewitness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.”

I don’t really have a lot to add to the official description, as this is a nonfiction memoir, so a lot of the “stuff” I assess and critique in fiction are off the table here. I will note that Krakauer is an exceptional writer, so reading this does have the feel and pace of reading a suspenseful novel. It’s obvious that, as a reporter, Krakauer has made a point of gathering as much information and as many interviews as he could, and doing so has resulted in — what seemed to me to be — a comprehensive, insightful, empathetic, and reasoned take on the events of May 10/11, 1996. Into Thin Air is not without its controversy and detractors, but I think for his part Krakauer was able to elegantly cover a very sensitive subject.  In addition to the straightforward recollection of the summit attempt, Krakauer also engages in fascinating personal reflection and reveals a great deal of his own survivor’s guilt and grief. And, even though I know everyone loves to play psychologist on the internet, I wouldn’t be surprised if his emotional state after the disaster could be considered straight-up PTSD.

The way this book has written gives it wide-ranging appeal beyond the obvious target group of mountaineers and lovers of the outdoors. Though this bestseller is some 15 years old at this point, it’s well worth a read if somehow you, like me, had managed to miss it up until now.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #27: Now It’s Funny: How I Survived Cancer, Divorce and Other Looming Disasters by Michael Solomon

I was one of five to receive this book as a review copy through Cannonball Read and I’m so behind on my reviews that, two months later, I’m finally writing about it. That…is embarrassing. Oops.

This book pretty much validated all of my fears about going to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor. I mean, no one really LIKES it, do they? But I get super freaked out, my blood pressure spikes, and I spend my entire waiting room stay worrying about all of the things that might possibly be wrong with me. WebMD doesn’t help.

Michael Solomon wrote this memoir as he was battling cancer and going through a divorce, all while living in NYC during 9/11, because just one of those things isn’t stressful enough. The Universe is a total dick sometimes. Solomon went to the doctor one day for something routine and came away from that experience with cancer. Now, I know, I KNOW, that going to the doctor didn’t GIVE him cancer, but before he went, he had no idea he had it, no health problems whatsoever, so you can’t entirely convince me that going to the doctor DOESN’T give you cancer, OK? Such is the logic of my brain. And maybe your brain, too. Brain twins!

Anyway. Solomon delivers the details of this experience, gory and otherwise, with irreverent humor and he doesn’t shy away from talking about what most people would consider embarrassing moments. My guess is (and I really can only guess here), once you’ve had and beaten cancer, you are left with a general “who fucking cares?” attitude about such things. Because, you know what? YOU BEAT CANCER. FUCK WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS. You have earned the right to talk about almost pooping yourself on the sidewalk of NYC (true story) all you want.

Solomon states in the beginning that he wrote this book as the story was happening, which shows. There’s not a whole lot of the soul searching that seems like might come at the end of such a battle (though, I can’t speak from experience, obviously) and I believe that comes from the author not having quite removed himself from the experience quite yet. And who could blame him? That kind of thing could take decades to sort through. Having read this, however, I’m glad Solomon didn’t take decades to write it. I felt almost as if I were reading someone’s private journal, which I suppose I was, and I can’t say that was a bad thing. Especially since I was given permission.

lyndamk #cbr4 review #14: What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami

Running with one of the greatest contemporary Japanese writers. Read more at my blog …

Figgy’s #CBR4 Review #2: “No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel” by Janice Dickinson

That’s one hell of a title

But I liked it. Read all about it here.

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