PW Reviews 2019 August #4
Krakauer (Missoula), whose writing has often depicted intrepid endeavors, revisits his early journalistic career and initial forays into his chosen subject with this outstanding collection. Depicting adventures of climbing, surfing, and caving, the essays address why some people are drawn to pursue dangerous feats and to push themselves until something inevitably goes wrong. Krakauer takes the reader along on journeys that are alternately thrilling and terrifying, via direct yet illustrative prose, as when he describes how a daring surfer "carves a tight, elegant arc as the wave curls over and tries to swallow him—a roaring, spinning tornado, spewing foam, bearing down fast on the blind side." The most moving pieces are an admiring profile of eccentric American alpinist Fred Beckey, "the original climbing bum"—known for bold first ascents, an obsessive need to climb, and a "quirky, enduring magnificence"—and a sorrowful, anger-inducing account of how teenager Aaron Bacon perished in a degrading, boot camp–style rehab in the Utah wilderness. All of these fascinating stories of bravery, brashness, and hubris succeed in illuminating those who, no matter the consequence, go head-on into the risks of the wild. (Oct.)
Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.