Flinty, mesmerising

matthiessen

The late Peter Matthiessen – writer (of the epic novel Shadow Country amongst other things), activist and, bizarrely, onetime CIA agent – has a new (final) novel out, which prompted me to go back to his classic book The Snow Leopard – his account of a Himalayan trek in search of the little-seen animal. Pico Iyer introduces the Penguin classics edition (his writing is of a fittingly high standard) and he makes mention of Matthiessen’s sharp, unflinching observation and his honesty. Part of the book’s strength is that Matthiessen’s clear-sightedness goes beyond simply describing his natural surroundings. As Iyer points out, Matthiessen’s mind wanders widely, care of his wide reading, and the majestic and often downright scary surroundings seem to inspire a corresponding depth in his writing, which though flinty and honed is also mesmerising, soul-filling and awe-inspiring.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s