Monday, February 17, 2014

I...I think I sweat my palms.

The convulsive conception of Into Thin Air, brought about by an instinctive desire to “purge Everest” from his life, does nothing to diminish the masterful accomplishment by Jon Krakauer in writing this adventure narrative (Introduction, XVI). The structure of building a story employed by Krakauer is unique to all other literature examined thus far in Extreme Adventure Narratives, and struck me as incredibly engaging. Several mechanisms, many of which were utilized under Krakauer’s control and some of which function beyond it, help to achieve this heightened accessibility.
Whereas the writing of Maurice Herzog was too focused on himself, and that of Arlene Blum was too focused on her expedition teammates, Jon Krakauer’s style of writing masterfully includes his own experiences and emotions with those of his fellow mountaineers. This is particularly evident when perspectives differ regarding events that took place during the climb and descent. Where other authors in a similar situation might have condensed supposed objectivity into their own viewpoint in lieu of appearing unreliable as a narrator, Krakauer presents all perspectives made available to him following the tragedy. This inclusivity of information, in combination with journal articles regarding the events, interview transcripts, the insertion of reflections adjacent to present-tense narration, and outside quotes from related adventures as prefaces to each chapter, comforted me with a sense of multidimensional credibility as I read.  

Another factor leading to my morbid satisfaction with this narrative, of which Krakauer had considerably less control over than his writing style, was the sheer magnitude of peril, death, and the resulting extreme adventure that was experienced on the expedition. As a narrator, he did not need to use hyperboles to build events up into more than they were for the sake of sales, or impressiveness. The events themselves were more than enough to drive the story. Krakauer’s implementation of character description and artistry therefore struck me as less obstructive to his narrative than it was to Arlene Blum’s, simply due to the cultivated feeling throughout the book of an impending doom.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the way Krakauer wrote this book was an incredible accomplishment. One of the things that I most enjoyed was the holistic way that he approached both the story and the mountain. We get history, culture, present issues and of course details on the climb itself. With these details at our fingertips, Krakauer really brings the reader along, as opposed to Herzog and Blum who tell the reader their story.

    On of the main things that I think contributed to Krakauer's success was that he entered this expedition knowing that he was going to write about it. He didn't know that he would write a whole book, but he knew he was going to write something. I think that his note taking and perspective was different from the Annapurna expeditions which certainly gives his book a richer feel.