Without Ever Reaching the Summit

HarperOne. Jun. 2020. 160p. ISBN 9780062978318. $22.99.
In 2017, Cognetti visited the Dolpo region of northwest Nepal to celebrate his 40th birthday, and the 40th anniversary of the publication of Richard Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, a book that greatly inspired him. Cognetti is accompanied by Sherpa guides, his friend Remigio, and acquaintance Nicola. Matthiessen’s work compelled him to visit remote areas, ancient monasteries, and a vanishing civilization. Descriptions of the majestic mountains, flora, and fauna add to the atmosphere, along with fitting quotations from The Snow Leopard. Cognetti’s encounters with villagers can be seen as condescending including a proclamation that the region’s yak butter tea (a staple often offered to visitors as a treat) is “nauseating.” Conversations with his pals are juvenile. Cognetti’s illustrations include maps, structures, nature, and only one person.
VERDICT Of interest to fans of The Snow Leopard, and those fascinated by or interested in learning more about this geographical region of Nepal.

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