Hooker & Brown by Jerry Auld

In: 
Art & Entertainment

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By the time this review is published, many of you will have heard Jerry Auld speak at the opening reception of the Fernie Writers’ Conference, and you will already know what I am about to tell you: Auld is a writer perfectly suited to our little mountain town, and his novel should be on the must-read list of every mountain-sport enthusiast.

On my own signed copy of Hooker & Brown, Jerry has written: “There’s a story behind every mountain, even if the mountain never existed.” Many Fernie-ites are passionate enough about alpine history that a quick glance at the novel’s title is enough to explain his inscription. I hope the rest of you will (like me) be curious enough to dive into the novel and find out.

Hooker & Brown is narrated by Rumi, a young geologist spending his summer on the Kananaskis Trail Crew. He works alongside Lion, his best friend with a penchant for philosophy. Through Lion, Auld reflects deeply on the meaning of life, specifically on those lives dedicated to mountain sports and mountain culture. As well as being a gripping adventure story, the novel explores the function of story-telling, the relationship between maps and realities, and the balance between philosophy and action. Think Krakauer meets Kierkegaard.

Most of us who have chosen to live in Fernie won’t be surprised to find Auld highlighting a strong connection between mountain existence and meaningful life. We will, though, find ourselves underlining the Lion’s Sarte-inspired rants. For example, he puffs this one out between breaths mid-climb: “The existentialists really got it. Nothing is but what we feel. My life is a stage. There’s no script. We have to be the writer. And the actor. The first asking, Who am I? The second interpreting the answer. I’m going to live here. Among these peaks. Like a guru. And dream myself. The most meaningful life.”

Keep your pen handy. You can use this stuff.

As an aside, is it just me or does everyone imagine Lion looking a lot like Ryan Merrill?

You are the ideal reader for Hooker & Brown if:

You don’t need a definition of névé.
You consider detailed descriptions of high peaks a form of foreplay.
Your account of world history features the names David Thompson and Arthur Coleman.
You think mountains are a way of life as much as they are a geographical feature.
You have no problem with someone comparing climbing to sex (as long as they don’t ever expect you to choose sex over climbing).

Jerry Auld has, in Fernie, found himself a whole town of readers. I think I can speak on behalf of all Fernie’s readers when I say: great to meet you, Jerry.