Book Aesthetic

Denali: A Man, a Dog, and the Friendship of a Lifetime is a book I’m not sure I was ready to read.  It’s been a year since I lost my closest friend, and I knew this book would bring me back to some feelings that I didn’t really want to revisit.  

Author Ben Moon is a world class adventure photographer, who turned the subjective lens inward for this autobiographical account of his battle with colorectal cancer while in his twenties.  The primary focus was on the love and unyielding support of his best friend and adventure buddy Denali.

Denali was there for Moon throughout his ups and downs, and in the end, Moon was also there for his best friend as Denali eventually suffered through that same disease.  

Ben Moon’s story is filled with all the excitement you would expect from an adventure photographer trying to make it big while starting from uniquely humble origins.  Growing up in an off-the-grid family on a secluded piece of forested Michigan land, finding success as a rower in college, falling in love, and losing love, moving west, hearing the call of climbing, surfing, photography, and of course adopting Denali.  They were ideal companions.

Throughout all of Moon’s adventures, his gains, his losses, his travels, his mistakes, his struggles, and successes, Denali was right there by his side.  When Moon was diagnosed with cancer and had to give up most of those adventures while trying to fight this disease, Denali did everything in his power to be there for his best friend.  

Moon is spectacularly open with his own vulnerabilities which is inspirational to see from such a renowned artist and noted badass.  He shows us a side of himself through his sufferings that forces the reader pull for him in sincerely affectionate ways.  Moon’s openness also allows us to discern exactly how vital the relationship between him and Denali was.

The love between a dog and their human is profound, and the relationship between Moon and Denali captures that depth exquisitely.  

This book did in fact bring back the feelings I was afraid of, but it also brought a sense of comfort and happy memories that made this book valuable in an unexpected way.

Beyond this book, Moon made a thoroughly enjoyable and beautiful short called Denali.  The making of this film and Moon’s venture into a new artistic direction was a nice way to both end his book and show that through loss comes growth.

The book aesthetic uses some of Moon’s photos featuring both him and Denali, as well as the music from his friend Jack Johnson.  As always it feels impossible to capture the full range of emotions in such a short clip, but it was fun to try!

For September we are heading out to the Appalachian Trail. September’s read will be Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. If you want to read along, HERE is a link to the book!


34 Replies to “Book Aesthetic”

  1. I’ll definitely get this book. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve read almost all of Bryson’s books, including “A Walk in the Woods”. He’s my all-time fave travel writer. Last year, I saw the movie based on this book and found it very entertaining!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Definitely “In a Sunburned Country” . It was the first one I read because I have friends in Oz. Hilarious from beginning to end and helps one understand Aussies a lot better

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful post, but I can’t read this book. I started the video but…

    I’ve had to put down 22 of 25 dogs — three others died, well? Maggie died of cancer in my kitchen, in my arms; Molly stuck her head between two fence boards trying to get out of my friend’s yard. I’d left her there for safe-keeping while I went to Colorado. That dog and I were fiercely bonded and she didn’t want to be where I wasn’t. MY thought was “Oh Sweet Molly, you’re 13. This trip will be so hard for you.” I didn’t understand her well enough. That I wasn’t with her still haunts me. She was what some people call my “spirit dog,” and the only dog I wasn’t with at her death. Another, Kelly, died of a coronary suddenly, no pain, in my living room. She didn’t even know. The rest?

    All the others died in my arms. It is a privilege and an honor — though excruciating — to be with them at that moment.

    Numbers 26 and 27 — Bear and Teddy — think our lame little walks on a gravel road at the wildlife refuge are great adventures. Through them, I am able to see the walks that way, too and feel less resentment and loss over not being able to run any more. I want to run, but I can’t. Bear and Teddy make that OK — mostly. Dogs mean more to me than people. I can’t explain it, but I was born wanting a dog. From Bear I’ve learned the value of moving more slowly, how to look at the natural world, and how much I didn’t see for all those years. Teddy? Joy incarnate and contagious. My vet calls him “Mr. Happy.” Someday maybe I’ll write about everything I’ve learned from dogs.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. P.S. Now? Things that were in the periphery of my vision during running days are now, with Bear and Teddy, things on which I can focus — notably, raptors. Bear’s breed doesn’t move fast except to protect its stock. Otherwise? They saunter and her sauntering nature taught me the meaning of that word. We walk through earth’s sacred space in the brief candle moment of our lives. I still want to run, but at least I’ve learned that. 💚🐾 Yeah, I know. I should just go write a post… 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I kind of did. Not plugging the book, but here it is.

        It’s kind of a eulogy, I realize. I need maybe to think of an “After Everest” story. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

    2. That would be such an amazing book Martha!!! There is an expression that we don’t deserve dogs, not sure if that applies to everyone, but time and time again dogs have taught me more about how to live than any human could.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep. I’m 9 million times a better human being than I would have been without dogs. As for not deserving dogs? I think dogs are a far better judge of that than anyone else.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a wonderful story. I know first hand about the profound relationship between an individual and their dog.

    I had my dog when she was seven to eight weeks old (I was ten at the time).

    She had to be put to sleep when I was twenty-seven. I had her for seventeen years. I still think about her literally everyday and she has been gone for twenty years now.

    Besides that, the book, and this person you speak of sounds very open, courageous and inspiring. Seems well worth the read!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. WOW…17 years, that is spectacular! I just got a new puppy a few months ago, and he is a handful, but I would take the opportunity to have 17 years with him in a heartbeat!

      Thanks for the comment Miss Latoya!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Enjoy the puppyhood! And, I truly do hope your canine has a very long and healthy life.

        Just give your dog plenty of love and care.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s always hard to lose an animal friend. Thank you for this review. I’ll have to read this book now. It’s amazing what animals do for us. My dad has pancreatic cancer, and his toy poodle never leaves his side ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I bet your dad would love this book, something about dogs that allow them to take care of their friends it’s so remarkable.

      I hope things with your dad get better, and that his puppers continues to take good care of him!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s