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Heller's Tale: an Antarctic Novella Paperback – July 5, 2016
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Andrew Heller serves as a welder at a U.S. team’s base camp near the South Pole. As might be expected from his choice of profession, he doesn’t seem to have grown up aspiring to a 9-to-5 job, a suburban house with a white picket fence, an adoring wife who volunteers on the PTA, and dreams of a serene retirement. No, on a daily basis Heller faces the reality that a careless step could lead to serious consequences, perhaps even death.
Even though Heller’s neighborhood doesn’t have manicured lawns and two-car garages, his sense of community does govern his actions. His life depends on his neighbors, and theirs on him. The bond with fellow team members holds as strong as with family.
The members of this community have developed a sardonic view in order to cope with their sub-zero environment, joking about going on picnics or scouting the horizon for palm trees. But a storied relic of the past beckons to the team, and Heller finds himself drawn into the quest almost by accident.
At a mere 141 pages, Heller’s Tale offers a glimpse into a much larger story. Cohn, himself a veteran of the U.S. Antarctic Program at the South Pole, has much more he could tell us about what goes on in that “other world” situated at the bottom of our own world. His excellence in the craft of fiction gives hope that we armchair explorers may soon enjoy more adventures “on the ice.”
The Terror by Simmons, Worst Journey in the World by Cherry-Garrard, In the Land of White Death by Albanov, and the list goes on from Matthiessen to Ekbäck.
It's not that Heller's Tale isn't a nice little yarn, rather it's a light dusting in a land of blizzards.
Read this if you think a good plot put in an unusual and inhospitable location sounds interesting.