Dan Richards’ ‘Climbing Days’

The Creative Writing Reading Series returned with a packed house in Week 1 turning out to enjoy readings from our own Kent staff members. Attendees enjoyed a range of works, from an excerpt of Prof. Scarlett Thomas’ most recent novel, The Seed Collectors to an essay on the complexity of telling refugees’ stories by Dragan Todorovic. We also got a preview of Amy Sackville’s current work-in-progress about a Spanish painter in 1773, as well as a preview of Dr. Alex Preston’s upcoming literary exploration of birds, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and Books.

“All writing is flailing,” said Dan Richards as we were getting to the end of the talk he gave on his recent book, ‘Climbing Days’. But as it happens with all great conversations, this one too has expanded beyond its starting topic. With passion and humour he led us through the story of his memoir – the story which explores his prestigious roots, women climbers and addresses ‘the wrong’ in his family. The memoir becomes something bigger than Dan’s attempt to capture the life his family led. It’s the way of giving his father a voice he felt he lacked. The voice whose absence Dan’s family and himself has been struggling with through generations.

dsc_0135The conversation between Dan and Dr. Alex Preston was broken by the author’s reading from the book. The fragments chosen were touching, personal and beautifully written. It’s worth mentioning that ‘Climbing Days’ beauty isn’t limited to its content. The cover itself is a work of art, as it has been designed by Stanley Donwood, known for his collaboration with Radiohead.