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Kiss or Kill - Confessions of a Serial Climber
A collection of short articles Twight has had printed in a variety of publications, which have comments from the author following each.

Format Book Category Narratives
Title Kiss or Kill - Confessions of a Serial Climber  Pages 208 
Author Mark Twight  RRP  
Publisher Mountaineers Books  Reviews
Edition (February 2002)  Ave Rating *** (3.00 of 5)


User Comments
Teenage Kicks

Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a serial climber
Mark Twight

Mark Twight knows a lot about suffering – and after reading this book so did I. Part catharsis, part confession, Kiss or Kill is purportedly the maverick alpinist’s ‘knock-out’ punch, ‘the only collection of writing I’ll ever publish’, he tells us. I sure hope he keeps promises. Twight the unreconstructed middle-aged punk has barfed up a difficult-to-digest anthology of his more memorable magazine articles from the last 15 years. The result is a kind of splenetic scrapbook, veering from outbursts of impotent rage, sexism, and nihilistic bile, to some plain sneering. It’s quite exhausting. Thankfully, there’s also some quite good prose to leaven this lumpen mixture. Nevertheless, you long for a bit of humour to break the relentless angst and bleakness. No chance. ‘It’s not beautiful, it’s fucking war,’ he snarls at one point, when describing alpinism. He could easily have been describing this collection of essays. Climbing for fun is an alien concept on Planet Twight; there’s no easy ride to be had on this misanthropic mountain odyssey. Death stalks the pages relentlessly (not for nothing did the author earn the erstwhile moniker, ‘Dr Doom’). I found it all depressingly reminiscent of a television drama the BBC made some years ago called ‘A Short Film about Killing.’ This featured an endless loop of re-created IRA and UVF hits on ‘legidimate tairgets’ and in the end you were pretty much inured to the sight of brutal sectarian assassinations. I’m not sure whether the same effect was Twight’s intention, but you do tend to glaze over after the latest acquaintance has peeled from an alp, pitched into a crevasse or been fried by lightning. Part of the problem is because the author’s writing style – much like his beloved punk rock - is arguably more effective in short, sharp, shocking magazine bursts. A whole album of the stuff is ultimately dispiriting. Nevertheless, although chill-out tunes are in short supply, the later pieces in the collection are infinitely better crafted and more thoughtful than the initial efforts–and that’s something which even the Sex Pistols never accomplished. Even so, you’re constantly irritated by the immature emoting of a man apparently in a state of suspended adolescence (anyone who happily quotes Nietzsche in his 40s clearly never got over being ordered to tidy his room by Mom). But if you grit your teeth, and resist the itching temptation to write schoolmasterly notes in red ink in the margins, there are some interesting insights into extreme alpinism to be gleaned from the book. The emotional attrition of a life constantly on the edge of alpine survival is discernible in the irritability of much of the delivery, while in his best essay Twight reveals the Zen-like hallucinogenic state that he and his companions were reduced to during their amazing 60-hour non-stop ascent of Denali’s Czech Direct route.
Revere or revile him – it’s difficult to ignore Mark Twight. Ultimately, however, the book’s appalling egocentricity and hyper-elitist world-view, ensures it cannot be taken too seriously, allowing you to enjoy it for what it is: the semi-coherent ravings of an American alpine nutjob. But then again, my favorite punk track has always been The Buzzcock’s ‘Ever Fallen in Love with Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen in Love with?’ 
While I can't argue or improve on the previous reviewer's write-up, I have to take issue with the low rating. Part of the entertainment of the book is its faults. Especially humorous is the author's insistence on championing his musical tastes, which I actually share to some degree, as something spiritually significant. Twight may be a "nutjob", but he's also extremely entertaining and definitely not someone to take too seriously. He does also seem to have some heart, as he relates the story of his French climbing partner's death in Chamonix and how he deals with the loss. I also found his treatment of the Yugoslavian climber Tomo quite charitable and level-headed, even though many climbers have emotionally dismissed his climbing feats as fraud.

I'm about a third through the book and am looking forward to more tales from the Twightlight Zone. Borrow the book if you can't stomach paying for it. You'll laugh half as much as you grimmace. 
Mad Dog
I'm pretty much in agreement with Tim on this. I've read Twight for years and have also endured some fairly painful slide shows of his, and based on that, I can say that this is about the best presentation of "things Mark" I've ever seen. The whole is significantly greater than the sum of the parts. 

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