Category: Books

They didn’t know there were limits on what men could do

The 1924 Everest expedition team, with (rear left and second left) Sandy Irvine and George Mallory, whose deaths left an enduring mystery. Photograph: The Times/Camera Press Digital

Into the silence is a magnificent account of the British assaults on Everest in the 1920s puts Mallory’s adventures in the context of war and imperialism. It took 12 years to research and write.

So we went to San Francisco

Under the Sun, The letters of Bruce Chatwin

So we went to San Francisco which is so unlike anything else in the US it doesn’t really bear thinking about. it’s utterly light-weight and sugary with no sense of purpose or depth. The people are overcome with an incurable frivolity whenever they set foot in it. This doesn’t mean that one couldn’t live here. In fact I think one could easily, preferably with something equally frivolous to do.

Double life

“Ah, I see,” says George, “reporting for duty. It begins already, your double life.” He smiles and drains his cocktail.

“That is what you’re proposing, you realize?” he continues. “A double life. A divided existence, schismatic even. Let me give you a bit of advice about such endeavors: they are even trickier than they look. You must be careful. One half is always threatening to swallow the other, to consume it, to wipe it out. Sometimes a double existence is more than impractical; it is fundamentally an impossible feat- a folly- and in the end you may have to give one side up.”

Your brain

The three-pound organ in your skull – with its pink consistency of Jell-o – is an alien kind of computational material. It is composed of miniaturized, self-configuring parts, and it vastly outstrips anything we’ve dreamt of building.” David Eagleman.

Bye Bye Nicaragua. Hello Toronto. Weekend reading (late)

I am back after a few weeks of surfing, running and a visit to Nicaragua. Photos to come very soon, but you can get started here.

Leila Have you ever done a daily mug shot for a year, a few months or weeks? I got curious a while back and started it but quickly dropped it – you know how it goes, no time for anything! But this time around I am combining it with my running, so almost every time I get out there I will capture a shot. Daily.

What I have been reading:

Running Man

What_I_Talk_AboutMurakami runs six miles a day, six days a week.

(via The New York Times) In the style of Albert Camus — who claimed that much of what he knew about morality and duty he learned from soccer — Murakami believes that “most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day.” Specifically, he believes that writing requires, in order of priority, talent, focus and endurance — all of which find their complements in the habit of running.

Murakami’s latest book is really not that great but I forgive him since I am such a big fan… but his choice of music for running? oh lord“It’s not bad, but it’s sort of ordinary and doesn’t amount to much.” Blah.

The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

In October Slate published an exclusive excerpts from Rose George’s book The Big Neccessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters and I just ordered the book.

From Slate:

It drips on her head most days, says Champaben, but in the monsoon season it’s worse. In rain, worms multiply. Every day, nonetheless, she gets up and walks to her owners’ house, and there she picks up their excrement with her bare hands or a piece of tin, scrapes it into a basket, puts the basket on her head or shoulders and carries it to the nearest waste dump. She has no mask, no gloves, and no protection. She is paid a pittance, if she is paid at all. She regularly gets dysentery, giardiasis, brain fever. She does this because a 3,000-year-old social hierarchy says she has to.