Or in Latin, Fortitudine Vincimus: “By Endurance We Conquer.”
Writing for @NewYorker, David Grann has an article titled “The White Darkness: A solitary journey across Antarctica” that is nothing short of mind-blowing, breathtaking and inspiring.
The piece follows the journey of Henry Worsley, a 55-year-old British Army officer, who attempted to become the first person ever to trek the entire continent of Antarctica on his own, without the aid of animals or servants or, I don’t know, valets.
A thousand miles. Up 10,000 feet to the summit of the Titan Dome and then down to the other side, from the bottom of South America to the bottom of New Zealand.
Why would someone do this? The reasons are many and varied, but Mr. Grann does a thorough job in exploring the historical background, both of Mr. Worsley and his family as well as one of the continent’s most legendary explorers, Ernest Shackleton.
The story is captivating in and of itself, but for me it brought to mind one of my favourite pieces of CanLit, Wayne Johnston’s The Navigator of New York, a work of historical fiction set at the turn of the 20th century as (mostly) Europeans and Americans attempted to “conquer” the Arctic. Johnston, the author of another brilliant novel called The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, has long been compared to Don DeLillo, so if you’re a fan of the Underworld author, definitely check out Wayne Johnston – and David Grann’s piece from The New Yorker!
David Davis wrote an awesome piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) called “The Puck Stops Here: A Hockey Lit Survey.” If you thought man’s greatest pastime (reading) couldn’t join forces with our greatest sport (hockey, no, not the field variety), then think again.
The strange (fascinating?) thing about this is has to do with the principal character in this LARB piece, William Faulkner, the good old Southern boy who was more interested in war and riding horses than anything to do with a rubber puck and a bunch of Canadians skating around an ice surface in between beating each other up.
But all that changed, apparently, when a little-known magazine at the time, Sports Illustrated, sent Faulkner to a Rangers-Canadiens game at MSG in the winter of 1955. As Faulkner would later write:
“[The game] seemed discorded and inconsequent, bizarre and paradoxical like the frantic darting of the weightless bugs which run on the surface of stagnant pools. Then it would break, coalesce through a kind of kaleidoscopic whirl like a child’s toy, into a pattern, a design almost beautiful, as if an inspired choreographer had drilled a willing and patient and hard-working troupe of dancers — a pattern, design which was trying to tell him something, say something to him urgent and important and true in that second before, already bulging with the motion and the speed, it began to disintegrate and dissolve.”
From Faulkner’s impressions of players who “would not emerge like the sweating barehanded behemoths from the troglodyte mass of football, but instead as fluid and fast and effortless as rapier thrusts or lightning ” to the children’s classic, The Hockey Sweater, to the sport’s Golden Age, Summit Series, Philip Roth and Don DeLillo – this article has it all!