Saturday, August 3, 2013

Women in the Wild, edited by Lucy McCauley

Lucy McCauley pulls together a collection of adventurous moments in Women in the Wild: True Stories of Adventure and Connection. The book contains a large number of excerpts, averaging about nine pages in length, from both books and articles, that show the inner game of adventure from women's perspectives. While it is interesting to pick the moments in stories in which the inner and outer self come into conflict, I had trouble with this book----just about as soon as I got interested and involved in a story, it was over, and I had to begin again with a new experience. These are artistic moments that I experienced, but I felt so frustrated with their brevity that I only read about a third of them. I didn't want to become a grumpy person for a week while I read the whole thing. The stories take you all over the world, covering five continents, from authors traveling deep into jungles and deserts to jaunts into their backyards. I liked the interior focus of the excerpts that I read, making adventure something to think about as well as something to do. If short's your thing, and you're the sort of person that likes skimming the cream, then go for it! If you need to drink a full cup of coffee before you've fully decided how it tastes, then it's time to look elsewhere.

Mount Everest is represented in this collection by an excerpt from Chisholm and Bruce's To the Summit: A Woman's Journey into the Mountains to Find Her Soul. I can think of no Everest book that spends more time discussing the goings on in a climber's head than this particular work (although Messner occasionally gets pretty close). Though the excerpt doesn't represent the book in all its complexity, it does show two great moments of contrast, when Chisholm is short-roped by her lead guide up to (Nepalese) Camp II after a difficult day in a whiteout, to her climbing happily and well up to Camp III on a beautiful day. Her "ghosts" and traumas are left out of this excerpt, and she is left dealing with the flesh-y presences of her three guides, mostly in a positive manner.

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