Sch-One Step/Clouds

Audrey Salkeld, Editor, D. Spinner, Editor, Rosie Smith, Editor Random House (NY) $25 (1056p) ISBN 978-0-87156-638-6
This collection of 31 short stories, one play, four novels and two novellas--all thematically dedicated to mountaineering-- is highly diverse: adventure, folklore, science fiction and crime fiction all are represented. And there are some ripping yarns. For example, the working-class English heroine in Elizabeth Coxhead's melodramatic novel One Green Bottle attains great heights as a climber and as a person, then falls, metaphorically, in an infuriating conclusion. Rand, the elite climber in James Salter's excellent Solo Faces , provides a chilling, near-paradigmatic model of a superstar. In David Harris's Vortex , innocent lovers become drug runners by circumstance, and violent by necessity; the story has ``major motion picture'' written all over it. It's regrettable, though, that the plots of most of the fiction override and trivialize the sport, and that nowhere in this hefty volume is there an adequate explanation of what drives men to climb mountains. ``That we have survived again is the only victory,'' declares the hero of Roger Ubank's North Wall . ``There is nothing else.'' It would seem that machismo lies at the core of mountaineering--not an interesting or penetrating inference. 75,000 first printing. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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