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12 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a climber but...
Although I've never climbed in my life, I absolutely loved this novel. It described certain aspects of human behaviour - the tedium of daily life, the desire for escapism, and the ultimate pointlessness of life-avoidance tactics - like nothing else I've ever read. Although inclined to be dour and depressing, the book's scattered with incredible moments of beauty, humour...
Published on 6 Dec 2008 by Mr. D. N. Sumption

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my son
I think he enjoyed it though not as much about climbing as I`d hoped from the review I had read.
Published 13 months ago by wpb


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a climber but..., 6 Dec 2008
By 
Mr. D. N. Sumption (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
Although I've never climbed in my life, I absolutely loved this novel. It described certain aspects of human behaviour - the tedium of daily life, the desire for escapism, and the ultimate pointlessness of life-avoidance tactics - like nothing else I've ever read. Although inclined to be dour and depressing, the book's scattered with incredible moments of beauty, humour (the adrenaline-junkie who, on falling off a rock-face into a tree, enjoys it so much that he does it again) and surrealism (the feral Scouts and Guides who roam the Pennines). Everyone should read this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book., 18 Aug 2005
This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
I have been an enthusiast of M John Harrison since I read the incredible 'In Viriconium'. This book captures the single mindedness obsession and isolationism that occurs when you live for a pastime. It is beautifully written. A window into someone else's life. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important novels of the 80s, 9 May 2013
This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
This is a remarkable novel, ostensibly about climbing, but as much about masculinity, failure, the desperation of life in Britain in the 1980s, and finding meaning for one's life. Harrison is sometimes overlooked because he's thought of as a "science fiction" writer. Set aside the snobbery in that judgement and the stupidity of such classifications. He is a powerful and exact writer who is hugely admired by other writers (and is in his turn a fine critic who regularly reviews contemporary fiction in the Times Literary Supplement). His naturalism in this novel is no less metaphorical than the more apparently fantastic writing in his Viriconium novels or in the Kefahuchi tract trilogy (Light, Nova Swings, Empty Space). In a world with any justice, he'd be spoken of in the same breath as AS Byatt, Martin Amis or Julian Barnes as a master of modern British fiction. This new edition has a preface by Robert MacFarlane, a man who knows his literary history and his mountains, and who thinks very highly of the book. If you've never read Harrison before, this is a good place to start; if you have, you already know how good he is, so read this one too!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of gritstone and grey days...., 24 April 2006
By 
Peter Fenelon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
Mike is a failure in his "real" life; fleeing a loveless marriage he returns to his ancestral North and falls in again with a clique of gritstone climbers; the novel essentially follows a series of tangled, fragmented lives through a year of climbing, contrasting the precision and determination required to master increasingly challenging problems on rock with disorganised, aimless lives. This is a book written by a climber; Harrison has been active in the sport for many years. The descriptions of climbing are powerful and seem authentic; the tales of Northern life just as affecting and powerful.

Harrison is more known for his fantasy and science fiction; this book brings the same cool detachment and eye for detail to a more mundane milieu and works just as well as his more fantastic work. A compelling and powerful novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best British Novels of the 1980s, 4 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
A series of episodes with a climbing theme, set mainly during the extraordinary (now forgotten) draught of 1984, when much of the North of England had an abnormally dry Spring and Summer - perfect for climbing.

The book is narrated by "Mike" who shares much in common with the author M John Harrison; a fell runner and keen climber. Quite deliberately, as the various sections accumulate we're presented with an accurate description of the 'respectable' fringes of British society in the mid 1980s. Hence my 5-star rating - you can read this as a description of climbers and their adventures, or as a brilliant social novel.

Harrison's descriptions and dialogue are excellent, some of the characterisations are near perfect, and it's only the somewhat random and chaotic structure of this novel that grates.

At times brilliant and inspiring, sometimes dark and disturbing and always entertaining, "Climbers" is a brilliant work of art. Buy it and cherish it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of life hanging on the edge, 22 April 2009
By 
Lendrick (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
I knew M John Harrison as a science fiction writer so was intrigued to come across this as I'm a bit of an armchair climber.

Climbers is fantastically well written and as the title suggests focuses as much on the climbers themselves as the act of climbing. Though the sections which describes the climbs are gripping.

There is no plot as such, just a description of a year in the life of a group of male climbers in the north of England with some insights into why they do what they do. Harrison was a climber, and his real experience give the book it strength.

Why only 4 stars? Perhaps because the lack of plot means it seems to peter out a bit at the end rather than come to a climax. But I'd heartily recommends this a s a good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Climbers: A Novel, 10 Jan 2014
By 
I. D. coulter (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
May not be everyone's cup of tea but it was one of the best books I have read, looked at some of the other books written by this author which are science fiction but could not get far with them but this book is nothing to do with SF and the places mentioned actually exist.
Recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime evocation of climbing in the seventies, 4 Jan 2014
This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
I recently re-read this for the third or forth time. Despite having a copy of it already I found this edition irresistible when I spotted it in the library; choosing to offer it a foster home for a few days rather than abandon it on the shelf. I'm usually against introductions but the one here by Robert MacFarlane really nails it.
I grew up climbing in many of the quarries and crags the author references and his evocation of the sense of mood and place is spot on; likewise the era. The prose is sublime, and the final reminiscence very poignant. I'm not sure how anyone without a knowledge of climbing can make much sense of it but for me it's almost become part of my personal history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars location, location, location, 24 July 2013
By 
Joe (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
I get great visceral pleasure from M John Harrison's SF but it is his contemporary writing that I rate the highest. In fact there are few writers I can think of that I would rather read a description of a location by. The landscape that is also a state of mind - an ambiance and emotion - despite or maybe because of the apparent detachment he often employs. Small courtyards, rock faces, beaches, skies at evening. It is odd how the detachment also feels like intimacy - This book will stay with you. When I put it down the world actually looked different for a while, sharper, brighter, reading it had heightened my sensibility.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my son, 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Climbers: A Novel (Paperback)
I think he enjoyed it though not as much about climbing as I`d hoped from the review I had read.
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