One of the more remarkable English-language publishing stories in recent years is the success—both critical and commercial—of nature writing from the UK. Helen Macdonald has scored an unlikely hit with H is for Hawk, a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic, and writers like Robert Macfarlane have brought new vigor to the country walk, helping to revive a venerable English literary genre. More here. I’m picking up my pen and heading to the woods. (All messages c/o Catskills, NY, NY)
As a critic, you encounter all kinds of books. Some are just awful. Some are worthy, but dull. A few are good; some books even entertain. Then there are books you live in. (They don’t come along very often.) Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest is one of those kind of books. As thrilling as any adventure story, and grounded in awe-inspiring research, this magnificent account of the British Everest expeditions of the 1920s and the doomed attempts of George Mallory to scale the world’s tallest mountain is one of the best books I have ever reviewed.