Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Man's Life

I am Man; hear me roar.
This book by Mark Jenkins, free-lance writer and adventurer, is about manly stuff: You know, mountain climbing, and camping, and riding horses and bicycles through war zones.
Manly stuff, even though some of the crazy people he writes about doing incredibly dangerous things are women.

Now, we're not talking about just climbing mountains here. We're talking about climbing mountains no one has ever seen before, let alone climbed; and then taking the most difficult route to the summit; and then doing it in the middle of winter, just to make it more of a challenge; oh, and without oxygen.

Unlike some of his rock-climbing buddies, Jenkins is still alive, although he seems to have broken most of the bones in his body at one time or another in falls. At times in the stories that make up "A Man's Life," all of which were first published in Outside magazine, Jenkins attempts to explain his attraction to danger:

"The proximity to death can brilliantly illuminate life itself, but with one slip, this brilliance is instantly extinguished and your death becomes a black hole for those left behind.
"Why we climb is personal, but how we climb - a question hardly ever asked - is communal. How we climb defines the spirit of our sport. How we climb directly impacts not just the practice and future of mountaineering, but the health of the mountain environment."

Jenkins' book will give armchair adventurers the shivers, but it's his insight into the motivation of these risk-takers that puts this effort a notch above other travel narrative. If I - a man who's afraid to climb a ladder, let alone a mountain - can thoroughly enjoy this read, anyone can.

1 comment:

Monique Ringling said...

Welcome back, G.O.E.
I love your new home!!