Cheryl Suchors' "48 Peaks: Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains" is a memoir that chronicles the former businesswoman’s quest to scale the highest of New Hampshire’s mountains.
Suchors graduated from Harvard Business School in the late 1970s and moved up the corporate ladder before marrying, launching a successful consulting business and starting a family in Cambridge, Mass. She grew up with alcoholic parents and a beloved but challenging older sister with Down syndrome; she also felt pressure to excel at all costs, without ever asking for help. When she was still reeling from her mother’s death, she met her neighbor Kate, a fellow wife, mother, and feminist, and the two formed a close bond. Both novice hikers, they learned of the Four Thousand Footer Club, an elite society consisting of members who’d scaled the 48 mountains in New Hampshire over 4,000 feet high. The two women made this achievement their goal and grew closer as they pursued intense training regimens that included climbing up and down stairways at a local public-transit station, learning how to pack hiking necessities while avoiding extra weight, and relying heavily on the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide, which they referred to as their “bible.” Over the years, several other women became involved in the quest to varying degrees: Suchors’ personal trainer Cathy, her college friend Sarah, and Ginny, a choral master. After tragedy struck, the author was more determined than ever to climb the 48. Suchors’ journey feels authentic, and her writing, gleaned from journals she kept over the years, brings to vivid life a proud and driven woman, her staunch support network, and her vibrant, intelligent best friend and soul mate. She evocatively explains how every early alarm clock, hiking-boot print, and summit happy dance makes her think of her relationship with her friend. Throughout, her prose radiates a sense of determination: “Mt. Tripyramid would push me to my limits. … No matter. Though I might be a month shy of forty-eight and potentially a fool for giving up a lucrative business career to write a novel, I would complete this ‘event.’”
"48 Peaks" is an inspiring yet relatable true story with exciting scenes and plenty of heart.
(Suchors will speak and sign copies of her book at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar Blvd.)
A refreshing, dark look at US-Mexico dynamic
The reconquest is on, and it’s being led by an old man and a clutch of high school students in David Toscana's "The Enlightened Army."
Shortlisted for the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize, this is Toscana’s fourth novel to be translated into English. Ignacio Matus is sick and tired of the United States of America. As a public school history teacher in Monterrey, Mexico, Matus spends most of his class railing against the cruel injustices and depravities of Mexico’s neighbor to the north. But his gripes aren’t just political, they’re Olympic. Matus is convinced that he is the rightful winner of the 1924 Olympic bronze medal for the marathon and not the American who walked away with the prize — this is despite the fact that Matus wasn’t an official competitor and staged his own parallel race through the streets of Monterrey. When Matus is fired from the school for one rant too many, he decides it’s time to conquer the beast. But his call for an invading army is only answered by a few friends and a handful of students. Calling themselves los iluminados (“the enlightened ones”), the dreamers march north with visions of glory and history in their heads. When los iluminados cross the Rio Grande (in only a few steps) and quickly conquer the Alamo (a two-story house), the stage is set for a showdown between the forces of good and evil. If they’re actually in the United States. The novel jumps back and forth between Matus’ ramshackle adventures, his old age, when he attempts one more marathon, and a post-mortem exploration of his legacy, or at least an attempt to find anyone who really remembers him. Like the novel itself, Matus is both compelling and absurd. The novel is funny in a cringe-inducing way and has an undercurrent of sadness and tragedy we can’t look away from. We read almost with our hands over our eyes, anxious for the safety of these dreamers too innocent to fear their own naiveté. Toscana’s postmodern satire explores the darker side of Mexico’s impression of the United States and Mexico’s own place “toward the bottom where the crumbs are handed out.” The jokes are obvious, but the message is subtle and deft.
Absurd and comic but with a bitter edge, this novel takes a unique and refreshing approach to the darker aspects of Mexico’s relationship to the United States.