Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Abominable Me.

Lay awake last night reading a fantastic new book, so good I could not put it down, promising myself every chapter I read was going to be the last of the night but each one drew me on and on. Until I got so close to the end I had to go with it. Had spent the best part of most nights this week reading it, trying not to devour it too quickly, savoring the quality of the writing and even the company of the fictional characters. This last night was a Sunday and I was still reading it in the early hours of Monday morning. I could hear the wind outside my house moving the very full leafy branches of the trees in the park across the road from my house. It is the tail end of summer and the trees are still thick with greenery. Soon those same branches will begin to lose this years growth of green leaving the stick thin branches tap tapping against each other. For now though all you hear is a calming shooshing noise. Good conditions for a good read. And this is a damn fine read. The Abominable by Dan Simmons. I was so looking forward to this book since I first heard about it. So when I was given an advance proof copy of the book I felt as though Christmas had come early(which is saying something coming from a good Irish catholic who celebrates the wee baby Jesus' birthday every year..actually I am a rubbish Irish catholic but all the big holy days remain bullet points for me. At this point it feels like a race memory.)The Abominable is a very ambitious, very detailed and sprawling epic about a journey to the very summit of Mount Everest in the year 1925. A team of expert climbers from very different backgrounds attempt to discover the whereabouts of a seemingly lost rich boy and all round fop who went up the mountain but never came back down. The story begins in the here and now. The author describes his meeting with an elderly resident in a care home who has his own story to tell regarding an undocumented attempt to best the highest mountain in the world. This elderly man the world does not even know about has the most wonderful story to tell. A magnificent story about courage in the face of danger, loyalty and friendship, the thirst for adventure and exploration, of a world filled with mystery and places where the bravest men have not set foot. There is the mother of all mountains, There are nazies and bandits and holy men,There is Tibet and There are Yeti.
                 What more do you need for a close to perfect read.
                 Dan Simmons has created a cast of characters who feel close to real. I will never forget The Deacon, Reggie, Jean-Claude and Pasang. In transposing a series of journals belonging to the main character Jacob Perry(Jake to his friends) he brings them alive in a narrative feat of magic. Jake is an adventurer and a mountaineer with sky blue eyes and Forearms like Popeye. He is brave, decent and intelligent and it will take every ounce of character he possesses to survive the trials and tribulations his journey presents. If it is possible to develop a crush on a fictional character then by golly I think I developed one.
                   Everest is a cold hard mountain cloaked in mysteries and the weight of its own immense presence. Who knows what strange demons haunt its silent heights. Never mind the sound of wind in the trees. Imagine the noise the wind makes as it howls around a remote mountain monastery which conceals a wall mural depicting Yeti devouring the entrails of a still living victim. This is just one of the otherworldly visions Jake Perry must contend with. A haunting vision by flickering candle light as he attempts to get to sleep the night before the sky burial of a deceased friend.
                   I did not want this book to end.
                   I did not want to say goodbye to these characters.
                   I suppose now that I have read The Abominable I never will.