Peter Matthiessen’s, The Snow Leopard, winner of the National Book Award: It is my favorite non-fiction book, maybe my favorite book among all genres. The book cover states: "Across the most awesome mountains on earth, Peter Matthiessen went in search of the rare snow leopard. His dangerous trip became a pilgrimage, a luminous journey of the heart.”
Below are two samplings of his extraordinary writing:
“Still I sit a little while, watching the light rise to the peaks. In the boulder at my back, there is a shudder, so slight that at another time it might have gone unnoticed. The tremor comes again; the earth is nudging me. And still I do not see.” The Snow Leopard, p 114
“The two ravens come to tritons on the gompa roof. Gorawk, gorawk, they croak, and this is the name given to them by the sherpas. Amidst the prayer flags and great horns of Tibetan argali, the gorawks greet first light with an odd musical first note—a-ho—that emerges as if by miracle from those ragged throats. Before sunrise every day, the great black birds are gone, like the last great tatters of the night.” The Snow Leopard, p 216
Considered one of the greatest writers of all time, compared to Melville, Conrad, and Dostoyevsky, his lyrical and harrowing explorations of both the world and the human heart, made him the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, 1978) and fiction (Shadow Country, 2008).
A literary lion died last year.