Monday, March 3, 2014

Voices in Touching the Void

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’ climb of Siula Grande is an amazing story.  The challenges the two climbers faced and ingenuity and perseverance the climbers demonstrated on the mountain are truly incredible. It is hard to imagine ever experiencing such seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson has done the best job of helping me understand what climbers are thinking.  This is due to the fact that he splits the narration between two people and his choice of epigraph.  When Joe breaks his leg in chapter five, Simon Yates begins narrating along side Joe Simpson as they each tell their side of the story. While I recognize that Yates is not credited as an author and I can find nothing implying that he actually wrote his narrations, I felt more confident in his thoughts than when other authors described the thoughts of others.  Numerous authors that we have read have guessed at or assumed what other climbers were thinking however I had very little confidence in their analysis. What I found interesting about this narrative is Simpson’s voice would often assume Yates was thinking one thing when in fact he was thinking something somewhat different. This was especially true right after Simpson broke his leg and believes Yates will want to leave him behind.
I am very curious to know how much they collaborated in writing this story. While Yates is not credited as an author, did Simpson sit down and interview him extensively to write his narrations.  I like to believe that his narrations are as accurate as possible because I found them to be extremely helpful in allowing me to get inside the mind of the climbers and understand how they are dealing with the situations.

Finally, I found the epigraph at the beginning of the book to be extremely appropriate and helpful. Yates, along with Krakauer, successfully choose epigraphs that help the reader get into the right mindset and understand the feelings of the climbers in the narrative. I have really enjoyed this book thus far and can’t wait to finish.

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