“Free Solo”

Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold peering over the edge of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. He had just climbed 2,000 feet from the valley floor, as shown in the film “Free Solo.” Credit Jimmy Chin/National Geographic.

[Reminds me of my mother — a historian, teacher, librarian, scribbler. (Ahem. I wonder who follows in her wake!) At her funeral I said of her grammarian and authorial chops: “For her, there was a good way and a better way to talk and write. She had no truck with the wrong way.”]

How Honnold gets it exactly right is the real heart of “Free Solo,” and why the movie is worth studying. Honnold is not a thrill seeker. He’s a perfectionist who understands that the achievement of one supreme thing depends on the mastery of a thousand small things. Much of the perfectionism seems to come from his mother, Dierdre Wolownick, a retired French professor for whom, as Honnold puts it, “good enough, isn’t.”

(Bret Stephens, “Alex Honnold, A Soul Freed in ‘Free Solo’,” NYTimes, 10-25-18)

(c) 2018 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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