Sunday, March 2, 2014

Secondhand Opinions

The style of writing and the purpose of Touching the Void was in stark contrast with Touching my Father's Soul and Into Thin Air.  Simpson's book read like an action movie: lots of exciting events with a minimal amount of relationship/leadership discussion and "lessons."  In the postscript he mentions that he, "wrote this book in the hope that, by telling the story 'straight,' it might nip in the bud any harsh or unfair criticism of Simon."  This is similar to Krakauer attempting to inform the public about the '96 disaster, yet Simpson does not seem to write for himself, rather to show his support of Simon's actions.  It wasn't to log in history a first or discuss why people climb mountains.  The purpose is to present the facts and show that, "we knew exactly what had happened between us and were quite happy with it."  It makes me think of someone recounting a story while hanging out at a climbing bar.  The fact that he focused on events rather than the discussion of the events made it more enjoyable for me.  I am still struggling with why I enjoyed his writing so much in comparison with Krakauer's ("a writer") and Herzog's ("a climber").  Maybe it's more that I respected Simpson more than Krakauer and Herzog rather than their actual writing.

1 comment:

  1. I feel similarly. Touching the Void really gets me comfy in the adventurer's "armchair." I can't pinpoint quite what it is either-- is it that it reads, like you said, as an "action movie" with "minimal" "lessons"? While in one respect if feels more real because I am feel so much more turning, mentally not in KJ but on the mountain. But I also feel more comfortable just reading because there aren't too many logistics, plans, or debates to criticize and evaluate from a "leadership" judg-y lens. Again, perhaps it is not a blunt, honest account but it is at least presented to feel like one, and that has drawn me in completely. Simpson's writing feels exciting, delicate, and vivid. Or maybe it's just that we were on the mountain from Pg1 and logistics didn't fill the first 150 pages? The excited is right from the get-go. That's what the armchair adventurers love... all the exciting stuff!