Charles Lind's An Afterclap of Fate wins Boardman-Tasker

by Mick Ryan Nov/2006
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An Afterclap of Fate
The winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize 2006 was announced on Friday, 17 November at the Kendal Mountain Book Festival by Ronald Faux, Chairman of the judges.

"Charles Lind revives the perennial mystery of Mallory and Irvine on Everest. An Afterclap of Fate is an extraordinary reconstruction in what Lind estimates could have been Mallory's own thoughts as the two climbers attempt the final lap to the summit. It is based on a close study of Mallory's own writings, books about him and Mallory's literary predilections. The vocabulary might be considered esoteric. Lind dusts down a whole glossary of words rarely, if ever, used to avoid any hint of tired, threadbare english, mountaineering steroetype or cliché - though maybe a few slip through that had yet to be coined in 1942.

The story has two halves, a description of the climb, followed by a forensically thorough examination of the evidence leading to a credible conclusion. This is a bold book; fact, fiction and fantasy rolled together in a refreshingly different approach. It concerns a most potent moment in mountaineering history and in Mallory one of the fascinating and complex figures mountaineering has yet produced; a brilliant climber and a gentle, intelligent man profoundly affected by his experiences in the First World War trenches but driven by a steely determination to succeed. There is some curious punctuation here and there and, though the line in An Afterclap of Fate dividing tolerable specualtion and pretentiousness may be narrow, it is never crossed. Indeed the writing is powerful, superbly structured and Lind indeed casts a fine spell of words. Delicate inquiries about the author revealed little more than that he was a poet who lived in Hove. We should learn a lot more about him because he is unanimously judged to be the winner of this year's Boardman Tasker Prize. Congratulations."

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