by James Salter (1979). Existentialist yarn about a driven man, Rand, who needs to climb (when he climbed, life welled up, overflowed in him). He has no choice in the matter; it is an obsession to find himself in this manner; everything else in life is secondary, including his relationship to the woman that bears his son (Desire is never without price). He leaves his native Los Angeles and moves to Chamonix. After attaining fame through his Alpine climbs and the attendant tragedies, he returns to lose himself in wandering. Rand is not an overly complicated man and we’re not being told a lot about his life. The novel ends inconclusively–
There were many stories. A climber was seen alone, high up on Half Dome or camping by himself in the silent meadows above Yosemite. He was seen one summer in Baja California and again at Tahquitz. For several years there was someone resembling him in Colorado – tall, elusive, living in a cabin a few miles outside of town. But after a few years, he, too, moved on. They talked of him, however, which is what he had always wanted. The acts themselves are surpassed but the singular figure lives on. The day finally came when they knew they would never know for certain. He had somehow succeeded. He had found the great river. He was gone.
Written in sparse, stabbing sentences, the prose is bittersweet and disturbing.