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 Mixed Emotions

by Greg Child

The Mountaineers, Seattle; 1993, 256 pages, softcover;

"Mixed Emotions is the follow-up to Greg Child's autobiographical Thin Air, though it's simply a collection of articles, most of which will be new to a British audience. 

 Greg Child is undoubtedly one of the most gifted climbing writers in the World today with a vivid and compelling prose style that frequently had me on the edge of my mountaineer's armchair, flicking the pages as urgently as I once had done reading The Last Blue Moun­tain or, more recently, Touching The Void".
Jim Curran, “High” 1997, April, No. 137, p. 85

"Mixed Emotions is mixed in content: autobiography, portraits of other climbers, reflections, climbs (a few of which were recounted in different form in Child's earlier Thin Air). I enjoyed the portraits the most; they are the work of a thoughtful journalist, revealing even when tackling such familiar icons as Doug Scott and Don Whillans".
Steven Jervis, “American Alpine Journal” 1994, p. 288-290

"Greg Child must qualify as one of high-altitude mountaineering's great survivors. Despite summiting on some of the high­est mountains in the world (K2, Gasherbrum IV, Broad Peak with real epics on all of them), and climbing hard new routes on lower Himalayan summits - Shivling, Lobsang - he's still at it with as much enthusiasm as ever.

Although he clearly loves climbing in all its forms - and you shouldn't forget that he's an extremely good free and big wall climber - he maintains a certain emotional and intellectual detachment and this is what keeps him alive. It's also what makes him one of the handful of people writing today about climbing who are worth reading. He is a participant in extreme climbing who has the gift of standing back and reflecting with honesty on what he's doing. This certainly comes across in the pieces on his expeditionary experiences, particu­larly 'A Margin of Luck' - on K2 from the north - and the poignant 'On Broad Peak' with its memoir of Pete Thexton's death. But it emerges most clearly in 'Meeting with a Stranger', the pensive reflection on death in mountaineering which ends the book as well as the five extended profiles he offer of fellow-travelers in the high mountains - Doug Scott, Voytek Kurtyka, Jim Roskelly, Jim Beyer and Don Whillans.
But what really makes this book stand out is that Greg Child can write well. His prose is almost always taut and compelling, and he has a talent for evok­ing both mountainscapes and states of mind with simplicity and succinctness. He can also convincingly capture the frag­ments of dialogue that take the place of conversation at high altitude. This is about as far from run-of-the-mill moun­taineering writing as one can go.

There are eighteen pieces collected here, five printed for the first time. All of them are worth reading and some are outstanding. It is inexplicable that the book wasn't shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker. Mixed Emotions should be compulsory reading for anybody with even the vaguest interest in climbing".
Jose Luis Bermudez, “Mountain Review” 1994, January/February, No. 6, p. 66

"With a healthy dose of humor, Child recounts the close shaves with snakes and other boyhood mishaps that lay the groundwork for the no less serious busi­ness of climbing. Rugged stories from the Himalaya, Alaska, and Yosemite are interspersed with thoughtful off-moun­tain tales of foreign cultures and travels. A chapter titled "Meetings with Remark­able Men" profiles Doug Scott, Voytek Kurtyka, Jim Beyer, John Roskelley, and Don Whillans. A final chapter studies the supernatural phenomena encountered by high altitude climbers, and reflects on death in the mountains.

Some of the 19 stories — classics such as "Coast to Coast on The Granite Slasher" and "Margin of Luck" — will be familiar to many readers. Though several gems debut in the book, Child fans will find this shortage of fresh material Mixed Emotions' greatest flaw.
Throughout Mixed Emotions, you can almost see Child hunched over the key­board as well as in extremis in the moun­tains. He continually reminds us that the written word is just that. In one passage he writes, "It is by involvement and not through this armchair account that an understanding of climbing and its atten­dant escapism will be found. All you will find here is another razor murder of the experience." As razor-murdered experi­ences go, however, Child's accounts are pretty vivacious".
Pete Tekada, „Climbing” 1994, February1 – March 15, No. 142, p. 150


See also
Thin Air: Encounters
in the Himalayas
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