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The Beckoning Silence Paperback – 2 Jan 2003
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"Grippingly told...there is no question Simpson is a brilliant adventure writer. There are passages that had my heart racing" (Observer)
"Eloquent, spine-chilling stuff" (SUNDAY TIMES)
"No one conjures the thrill of altitude better than Simpson...A hugely enjoyable book...As far as mountaineering literature goes this is about as good as it gets" (Sara Wheeler, Spectator)
"An engrossing read. Nobody evokes the physical and psychological realities of climbing better...a powerfully written book...as vivid as anything Simpson has yet produced" (Sunday Telegraph)
"Heart-stopping stuff...This is not a book for the fainthearted and perhaps should come with a government health warning...a book that will have your fingers clutching imaginary rocks and palms sweating over every page" (Scotsman)
'Eloquent, spine-chilling stuff' Sunday TimesSee all Product description
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This book was an interesting combination of Joe talking about various different experiences while climbing, some personal experiences from his own life, and also accounts of earlier climbers who attempted the north face of the Eiger, which all built up to Joe's decision on whether to climb the face, and also his feelings about climbing and whether to continue. At times it was almost a little strange to read about such personal feelings- almost like reading somebody's diary that would usually be private, but I admire Joe's honesty and the combination of both a pragmatic attitude to climbing mistakes, paired with some beautiful descriptions of the emotions evoked by climbing- of which I think Joe's description of being caught in a storm on the south face of Les Drus was one of the most stunning.
This book, and others like it, raise all sorts of interesting questions- such as how to balance the desire to do something potentially life threatening with the fact that family and friends want you to be safe, along with weirdness of sometimes feeling most alive when close to death, which Joe mentions on a few occasions. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much- because human emotions seem to make so much more sense in these more extreme environments, and you can see that in many ways we're designed for coping with the immediate risk and dangers that activities like climbing throw at us, whereas in the "real world" everything is so drawn out, anxiety goes on for hours, days, weeks, months over risks that aren't life and death they are just ongoing worries. It is uplifting and life affirming to read about emotions in such a different environment- the powerful descriptions of ecstatic joy at achieving a goal tinged with sadness when it is over, the fear and awe and respect for the mountains, the enjoyment and absorption in the climbing.
I guess this book might not be for you if you prefer one long "story" rather than a collection of different experiences, but for me (perhaps because I have a background in psychology!) reading about Joe's feelings towards climbing and whether or not it is worth the risks was a really rewarding experience and I think that for anyone who is troubled with asking what life is for or why we are here I feel like the answer is hidden inside books like this, and inside people who follow their dreams to the very end.
Very highly recommended.
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
Great story though
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