If the purest expression of climbing is doing it, not writing about it, then this book, like the author's attempts to climb Kipling Groove, was destined to be a failure. But better to fail on Kipling Groove than not to have tried it at all, says Ronald Turnbull.
Thanks for this review. I will have to read Native Stones again, after a gap of maybe 2 decades. It is in my mind as one of the most essential climbing books I've ever read, perhaps The most essential. Yet I remember very little detail of it, though as a serial backer-offer, the pondering on the nature of failure on climbs and its wider psychological context really connected with me.
his book may be a failure, but its a glorious failure, in my opinion one of the best books on climbing I've read over a period of 40 odd years.
I agree with Doug. Maybe its a generational thing but I think its the best climbing book I have ever read. Possibly because its about landscape and friendship. I have always been surprised it wasn't more well known
I read this and M John Harrison's 'Climbers' around the same sort of time. These 2 hit the spot for me, perhaps extra so for grubbing around on the crags of the North West where I started. Little did we know that time would turn out to be a sweet spot for climbing literature. I thought another would be along every year or two. Helen Mort is a worthy descendant though.
"middle-of-the-road climber can, one who solos at 4c, seconds at 5a and leads at 5c." Either he was very good at stepping up when on the sharp end or those numbers have got transposed
I LOVE this book. I bought it in a charity shop over twenty years ago. It's such a beautiful read. I'm sorry to hear that he has died.
This is also a really lovely book, although this post is off topic, sorry.
Sad to hear here that David Craig has passed away. I met David and had dinner with him after the 40th anniversary celebration of the Creative Writing Department at Lancaster University. Apart from founding one of the first (I think it was the second) creative writing courses in the country, he had a very important role in helping to shift, democratise and broaden the scope of Higher Education and the study of English Literature in particular. He got into a few scraps and scandals, notably when he was quoted in a national newspaper as saying that he didn't see any problem with integrated male and female university dorms (ahead of his time here!), and when he was subject to a witch-hunt of left-wing intellectuals, singled out for teaching a module on literature, the Soviet Union and revolution (with his marking stolen one night from his office so that the paranoiac Dean could have it scoured for encouraging "left-wing bias"). I think Native Stones is a beautiful book - authentic, reflective and insightful. The essay on Romanticism goes a long way to explain the peculiar structure of feeling the British have for the "outdoors".