The Magician's Glass by Ed Douglas
I was recently given a review copy of Ed Douglas' latest book. It is a collection of 8 short stories about climbers and the climbing life. He looks at both the great achievements and the failings of a few well known climbers from around the world. Douglas is obviously an accomplished author so the work that has gone into crafting each story really shows. Other than the first story, the eponymous Magician's Glass, each of the stories is written about someone else and the research that has gone into the essays brings us some insightful thoughts. I like the short story form which leaves no room for bloated guff just well honed prose.
Many of the stories concentrate on an individual climber like Toni Egger, Tomaz Humar, Kurt Albert, Ueli Steck and Patrick Edlinger. Some essays are a bit like an obituaries but with a bit more meat upon the bone. Douglas often highlights the frailties of not just climbers but of any human being. Many of the climbers have some inner conflict which greatly affects their life and in the end their death. Douglas does well to pick through the complexities of these characters and show us, in an objective manner, what lies beneath the skin.
Although there is a major theme of deception and tragedy in this book there is also a sense of hope and beauty which shines through as long as the Magaician's Glass is not too darkly smudged.