Adventure author in Edwards Tuesday
“I’ve always been curious about regional history – the events in a particular part of the world that make it distinct from all other places,” says McKay Jenkins, author of “The Last Ridge,” a book about the 10th mountain division history, and several other books of non fiction. The author, who is also an avid outdoorsman and professor of English, will speak about his writing and research Tuesday at The Bookworm’s Meet the Author Book Club series at eat! drink! in Edwards. Jenkins’ books, which also include “White Death” and “The Bloody Falls of the Coppermine,” consistently take on the human battle against the indifference of natural forces. “I’ve always been interested in stories involving people in difficult physical environments,” says Jenkins.
Keep in mind, though, Jenkins does not write straightforward historical accounts. Rather than reading a history book, you feel as if you’re in the midst of a work of fiction. (But don’t be dismayed, his non-fiction is not fiction in disguise.) And in each book he re-creates a deep emotional plot, digging into the main characters’ psyches and eccentricities. Readers have commented that they can almost “taste, smell, and touch” the stories as they unfold. Jenkins re-creates the true story of the troops of the elite 10th Mountain Division in WWII in “The Last Ridge.” After three years of grueling training in Colorado, the troops that were made up of European expatriates, ski bums, mountaineers and thrills seekers finally faced combat in Italy’s Apennine Mountains. Jenkins re-captures the soldiers’ camaraderie, bravery, honor, humanity and sacrifice. “I don’t go into a story to try to teach a lesson to the reader,” says Jenkins, noting that he tries to let the story tell itself. “But somehow after the research is done there are big lessons that come out of it.” For example, Jenkins knew something about the 10th Mountain Division soldiers before starting his research, but his admiration grew after learning about the grueling three-year training they endured at Camp Hale.
In “Bloody Falls of the Coppermine” Jenkins tells the true story of two Catholic priests who were sent on a mission into the Canadian Arctic in 1913 to convert a group of Eskimos. Upon reaching their destination, the priests were murdered. The murderers were captured and then put on trial in a 20th Century Western courtroom. Jenkins also examines the trial of the Eskimos and the ultimate cultural clash that ensues. “The White Death” is the tragic true story of an avalanche that roared down Mount Cleveland in Glacier National Park, where five young climbers (ages 18-22) had set out to scale the treacherous North Face against the advice of professional rangers. Jenkins seamlessly interweaves the deeply personal stories of the young men with the metaphysics of mountaineering and the history of avalanches. “When I write books, I tend to enter a kind of universe parallel to my own life. It’s intoxicating, and a lot of fun . . . and a lot of hard work,” says Jenkins. He’ll never give it up. In fact, he’s hard at work on his next book, which is a bit of a departure from his previous works. “It’s about Maryland, the flow of people from the South and North, and the love I have for bluegrass music.”
You’ll have to wait and read it to see how it all fits together, he says with a grin.Jenkins will visit eat! drink! in Edwards on Tuesday for the Bookworm’s second event of its 2006 Meet the Author Book Club series. Tickets are available at the Bookworm for $20. The ticket price includes wine and light appetizers. For more information, stop by or call the Bookworm at 926-7323. Meet the author
Who: Mckay JenkinsWhen: 5-7 p.m. TuesdayWhere: eat! drink!Information: Call 926-7323
Cost: $20Vail, Colorado
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