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Boardman Tasker Award shortlist

Friday, 9 September 2016

Vertebrate books shortlisted for the 2016 Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature.

It’s a big deal getting shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature. The award is free to enter, global, and comes with a tasty £3,000 prize. So unsurprisingly there is fierce competition. Looking back over recent years there are a lot of very good books that have gone on to be classics that started life on the award’s shortlist. It’s a big deal.
Vertebrate Publishing is immensely proud to get back on the list this year with Mark Vallance’s book Wild Country and Simon McCartney’s book The Bond.

Everybody knows Mark, and knows something of his remarkable story. Nobody knows Simon, and nothing was known about his adventurous past. I’d obviously recommend you read the books to find out more, please read the books! It’s no exaggeration to repeat what one reviewer has said, reading these books is a life-changing experience, maybe only in a small way for most of us, but maybe in a profound way for some of us. Mark’s is beautifully written, ably assisted by the very talented Ed Douglas, as Mark said, ‘I wrote all the words, Ed just put them in the right order.’ It is very much a seize-the-day call. While Simon’s is more an epic of epic proportion. A dance with the dark side of mountaineering and the redemption that time can bring.

The books are not about me though, as proud as I am for commissioning them, they are Mark and Simon’s story. Let’s find out what Mark and Simon think of being shortlisted:

Firstly, for a man whose first draft of The Bond was closer to 200,000 words than I dare mention, Simon, perhaps still in shock about being shortlisted was a little lost for words when I asked him how he thought The Bond was evolving as a book now it was ‘out there’ … 'I started writing because the circumstances were compelling, I had no choice. My goal was catharsis, setting the record straight, honouring the bond between Jack and I. Never in my wildest imagination did think that The Bond could become what it has become. I spent three decades away from climbing and the simple telling of this tale has helped me find pride in what we did. It has connected old friends who should never have been parted and many more.
To have been shortlisted as a work of mountaineering literature is beyond any expectation. I am overwhelmed by it.'

Simon McCartney recording a short film for us about his book, The Bond.

Mark had less to say, in fact he was speechless for about a minute, then said ‘it’s unbelievable’. Later, he explained, ‘I wrote the book because I could and there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, like go climbing. If I hadn’t had Parkinson’s I wouldn’t have written it. But you have to get on with what you can do and not worry about what you can’t. I guess it’s a mirror of Michael J Fox’s autobiography, simply titled Lucky Man. Spelling was the hardest thing about writing the book, I never found actual writing hard, a little like my time as BMC President, it wasn’t all cake and coffee, but I felt I had a job to do and I like to think I achieved it.’

Mark Vallance proudly holding his book Wild Country outside Vertebrate HQ.

The three (lovely) judges will choose a winner from the five shortlisted books at the Kendal Mountain Festival on 18 November. I’d recommend you get yourself a ticket, it promises to be quite an entertaining afternoon.

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