Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alone by Richard E. Byrd

After reading so much fantasy over the past few weeks, I wanted something completely different and discovered this old paperback buried on my bookshelf, loaned to me long ago by a friend. Alone was certainly different in content but no less gripping than some of the better novels I've read lately.

This is a brutally honest and yet strangely dignified account of a man's struggle to survive a dark Antarctic winter in the 1930s, alone on a remote weather station more than 100 miles from the safety of the Little America base. When his stove malfunctions and he begins to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, he does his best to pretend that everything is all right so that his colleagues at the base will not put their own lives at risk in an attempt to rescue him. Byrd's writing is strangely compelling as he explores the twisted paths his mind takes as depression sets in and he confronts his mortality.

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