Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 08/14/15 11:08 AM

Book review: All the Way to Heaven by Stephen Alter

This is more a brief take than review.

Stephen Alter`s All the Way to HeavenĀ will strike an immediate chord in anyone who loves mountains. This is an account of his childhood in Landour, lovingly and evocatively rendered. Hunting, fishing, trekking and of course going to school at Woodstock; it’s a good life indeed, and Alter shows full appreciation of it, too.

Here is an excerpt of a shikar expedition in the Himlayan foothills.

Still half a mile from Patreni, I heard a sound that made me stop, a low rustling noise that grew steadily louder, blotting out all other sounds. I started to run as the first hailstones began to fall, hitting the back of my head and stinging my ears and face. The noise of the hail was all around me now, a muffled cannonade. the pellets of ice turned the trail white and made my boots slip at every step. The wind kept changing direction, hailstones pelting into my face and tearing at the weeds along the edge of the path. There was a violence to the storm that seemed almost vindictive, as if the sky was taking revenge upon the earth. The noise was defeaning, I felt disoriented and afraid, unable to recognise any of the landmarks on the trail. The sky was a blowing whorl of hailstones, everything bleached white.

All The Way To HeavenHimalayaLandourmountainsStephen Alter

Sheila Kumar • August 14, 2015

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