Most helpful critical review
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2008
I was impressed enough by INTO THIN AIR, his '97 account of the previous year's Everest climbing disaster, that picking up a used copy of EIGER DREAMS was a done deal. I didn't pay enough attention when buying it, however( at a local used bookstore) to learn that it was a compilation of climbing-related stories he'd previously published in 'Outside', 'New Age Journal' and 'Smithsonian'. I have nothing special against collections of previously published work. If I haven't read the material, what's the difference? But, as a writer myself, they always make me nervous somehow. Maybe it's the image of the writer badgering his agent about getting the cash flow flowing again and the agent placating him with, 'Why not pick some stories that aren't doing you any good anymore, the rights to which have reverted, and see if we can't make'em work the second time around?'
The included stories, with two exceptions (to me), are good, solid tales of blue ice and heartless rock and the maniacs who love both in vast quantities ... and vertical. They vary widely in specifics within that overall focus. Think of them as 'climbing canapes'. The two (out of 13) that put me off were a personality piece about two male climbing twins and juvenile delinquents, The Burgess Boys, and A Mountain Higher Than Everest?, a, to me, tedious examination of the history of the science of 'triangulation' or whatever gauging the height of mountains entails.
I heartily recommend that anyone lured by the image contained in 'Eiger Dreams', the title, skip'em.
I like Krakauer's writing persona and his style of reportage, but I'm not thunderstruck. I'm glad I picked it up for $6 in paper. I KNOW I'll read 'Into Thin Air' again, but 'Dreams' may be really yellow before it's opened again. The former, in fairness, had mainly to skillfully report a place and event that provided every conceivable element of breathtaking(excuse the pun)drama, high (see previous apology)tragedy and a worst case example of what happens when too many people abandon reason, common sense and a saving humility, preferring to let blind obsession become their guiding principle. And they all managed to do it, somehow, in the same place, at the same time.
After reading that, damn near anything would fall shorter.
I concede that that tale was a hard act to follow. It only followed it for me, however, having been published in 1990, six years before the catastrophe on Everest took place.