Into Thin Air

I read this book few years back and was struck by two things, the magnitude of the struggle Everest climbers endure and the real tragedy on the Everest in 1996. John Krakauer has done a wonderful job of recreating – in words – his Everest climbing experience and the horrors of that fateful day. He takes us through his preparations, the eventual climb, his feelings as he climbed and his feelings at the top of the world. He opens the book with the description of his physical condition and the mental state when he was at the top of the world. The harsh reality of the twenty nine thousand feet climb is revealed right at the start, in your face. With that opening, he takes us on a breathtaking journey.

I think I was reading that book in 2008 (read it 2009 looks like). When I was mid way through the book and around the point of reading the tragic parts, heard the news of torrential rains and the never seen before floods in the Northern Karnataka regions. It was beyond anyone’s imagination. The story in the book, the tragedy unfolding at the moment and relative calm of my surroundings in which I was reading about the two events struck a chord with this quote from the book. There have been many occasions since then when I have remembered this quote. The message of this quote has stayed with me and it always seems so much true.

I distrust summaries, any kind of gliding through times, any too great a claim that one is in control of what one recounts; I think someone who claims to understand but is obviously calm, someone who claims to write with emotion recollected in tranquility, is a fool and a liar. To understand is to tremble. To recollect is to re-enter and be riven…. I admire the authority of being on one’s knees in front of the event.

Harold Brodkey – “Manipulations”

(Watched the movie Into Thin Air today and was reminded of this quote. Hence the short post in the blog. Usually I don’t watch the movies based on the books that I have read. Somehow I saw the movie today. Liked it. Obviously not as detailed as the book, but covered the tragedy part in detail and overall does justice to the story)

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