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Flammes de Pierre

by Anne Sauvy

Diadem Books. London/USA, 1992

“The name of this book of sixteen short stories—which literally means Flames of Rock—refers to the ridge of pinnacles which radiate from Les Drus, in Chamonix. The author has climbed around Chamonix for many years and has absorbed the spirit and the quirks of the climbing scene there—at least the French side of it.
The tales in Flammes de Pierre revolve around those who frequent the mountains of Chamonix: the climbers, both aces and hacks, guides and their clients, and some phantasmagoric characters too. (…)
The style of Sauvy's writing is markedly different to the fast-paced, action-oriented journalism about world-class climbing epics we have grown used to in today's climbing magazines. Her tales build slowly, patiently. Just when you think the story isn't really heading anywhere, she delivers a strange or dramatic element that hooks the reader till the end. Sauvy's is a formal and precise style of writing. (…)
The book first appeared in 1982 in France and won climbing-writing awards there and in Germany. Her most recent collection, La tenebre et I'azur, from 1991, also won an award in French climbing-literary circles.”
Greg Child, „American Alpine Journal” 1993, p. 309-310

“If Tom Patey is the master of satire and John Long is the prince of the improbable, then Anne Sauvy is surely the mistress of the imaginary. Her tales of mountains and mountaineering in Frances Chamonix valley are admixtures of the satiric, the surreal, and the wonderfully absurd.
In the introduction to Flammes de PierreFlames of Rock — Audrey Salkeld writes: [Sauvy] sets the stage that all can recog¬nize for its authenticity, then upon it enjoys nothing better than to ambush her audience with the unexpected. It is those ambushes, premeditated, planned to the minute detail and delivered unrestrained as the finale, that define Sauvy's literary style.”
Dean Engle, “Climbing” 1994, April-May, No. 137, p. 162

“Fans of Steck and Roper's Ascent will be familiar with the first piece in the book, The Collector{AscenX, Volume V, 1989). La Fourche appeared first in the Alpine Journal (UK, 1985), Time Reversal in Climbing #95 (US, 1986), and these latter two plus 2084 were collected in the fiction omnibus One Step in the Clouds (Diadem 1990). But even if you're already familiar with these, you will find in Les Flammes de Pierre a further twelve stories in which to savour afresh the Anne Sauvy style. (…)
Much human folly is paraded in these pieces: avarice, covetousness, bad temper, pride, lack of conviction; and menace and hopelessness have more than walk-on parts, yet the overall air is not one of despair: this reader was left with no aftertaste of depression, rather the feeling of a safe and benevolent observer of the frailties of person- and mountain kind.
The translations (variously by Jane Taylor, John Wilkinson, Franco Gaudiano, Jeremy Bernstein, Daniel Roberts, Geraldine Roberts, Siobhan Anderson, Linda Collinge and Anthea Bell) make for smooth reading and show a uniformity of style which must spring from the strong flavour of the originals, and which makes the pieces sit well with each other in this elegant, witty and very collectable volume.”
Rosie Smith, “Mountain” 1992, May/June, No. 145, p. 48-49


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