Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An Outside Perspective

James M. Tabor's Forever on the Mountain is the first work that we have read that truly presents an outside perspective of an adventure. This book was published in 2007, but it details the disaster of a 1967 adventure. There is no question that this is a completely new view of adventure narrative. Unlike many of the other narratives we have read, Tabor was not on the mountain. He is not writing to share his experiences, but to explain and reconstruct the experiences of others.

In some ways, the fact that Tabor was not on there on the adventure but is still writing about it makes the book more available to the audience. This book seems to be targeted toward a wide audience, not just climbers and mountaineers. Because Tabor himself was not there, I think he does a good job of writing for others who were not there and who have no idea of what it was like to be there. For example, he explains basics that general readers may not have known about hypothermia and other physical impacts of altitude. He explains that , "at least two physical factors affect how the human body responds to hypothermia" (218). Tabor goes on to discuss how the size and amount of body fat on each climber contributes to how well they can withstand cold. These little details that he gives about aspects of climbing allow the audience to understand more deeply what it was like to be there.

Tabor serves as an effective link between the expedition details and the story that the audience reads. As stated above, in some ways it is good because he makes many details clear to readers who have little knowledge on the subject. On the other hand, it is hard not to question how accurate his representation of the climbers and the adventure is, given that he was not present. As long as the reader realizes that these reconstructions were created by an author who did not personally know the climbers, the narrative is an effective way for a greater outside audience to understand the details of this tragedy.

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