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Matt Samet's "DEATH GRIP" reviewed....

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Cunning Linguist · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 1,305

Bruce Lee famously delivered a "one inch punch" with enough power to blast volunteers back from his closed fist, swept off their feet by the force of Bruce's impossible power and refined technique. A similar experience awaits the unsuspecting reader of Matt Samet's "DEATH GRIP", a confesional tale unlike any other climbing-oriented writing that I can think of.

For comparison, I point to Mark Twight's Kiss or Kill, in which layers of socialization, tolerance, self-esteem, and interest in living long enough to grow old are peeled back to expose the frayed edges of a soul sharpened through the process of pushing past all limits. Twight's writing defined the event horizon of intensity in climbing writing for many years until now; while Samet's tale is much less focused on the details of particular climbs, the grinding brutality of the years that Samet lived in the grips of benzodiazepam addiction and detox makes Twight seem like a sunny morning paging through pictures of cute cats.

Death Grip is unique in its virtuosic choice of words, which sent me scrambling for an unabridged dictionary more than once, its subject matter, which has not been even hinted at within the sphere of climbing literature, and for its unflinching honesty. Matt Samet has bared his soul in an approachable and at times terrifying manner-you sense at numerous points in the narrative that yourself and your friends and family could easily have been swept into the riptide of Big Pharma toxicity and head control that very nearly destroyed the author.

Without doubt, this book is a monumental acheivement personally for the author, as well as an important read for anyone who's life has been shadowed by depression and the myriad traps set by our mental health "system" has set for the unsuspecting patient for whom a brief slip from the well-lit path of normalcy can become a nighmare slide into a lurching ocean of terror and isolation.

Read this one, share it with a friend. Death Grip deserves reckoning as one of the most significant non-climbing narratives by a climber, and has potential to spread awareness about issues that are very likely to become more common as benzodiazepam prescription rates continue to climb.

Hold on to your nipples

skinny legs and all · · Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 2,450

Thanks for posting this! Matt has always been one of my favorite authors. His and my early climbing days share many similarities as far as coping skills and goals are corncerned. I remember an article in Climbing where he described having a panic attack while soloing on a Flatiron climb he had done many times. I suffer from terrible panic attacks as well. I had not heard of this book and will relish reading it.

David Rivers · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 20

Bump. Matt is an excellent writer, and the book is a page turner.

JoshuaJones Jones · · Albuquerque · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 130

Excellent book. I currently have panic attacks and anxiety and am thankful that Matt put his experiences in writing so that others going through similar situations can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Excellent book!

NYClimber · · New York · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 85

I just ordered a brand new copy from Amazon at a discounted price by one of their sellers.

As a RN I am interested in his story. I read the review in a recent climbing magazine some months ago and it sounded really good.

I will post a review after I read it and share my thoughts on it as well.

tigerclaw · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 0

I have always enjoyed Matt's writing whether it was his humorous articles or shorter editorial pieces in Climbing and Rock and Ice. Then I read "Death Grip" which delivers with the force of a Mike Tyson uppercut. It is a book that defies categorization while melding equal parts memoir, autobiography, confessional, and a howling screed against the psychiatry-Big Pharma nexus that is now so thoroughly entrenched in industrialized societies around the world.

In movie terminology one could say "Death Grip" is Requiem for a Dream meets Front Range Freaks meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. How many drug addicts return from the living morgue of their addiction with a message of profound hope and a map of recovery for their fellow addicts? We don't need a number but we do know Matt is a revenant whose experience with Benzos is a tale that should be required reading for anyone considering pharmaceutically altering their brain-body chemistry. Embarking on that path is like leading off into one of Matt's 5.13 headpoints in the Flatirons; there should be no illusions as to the consequences if things go wrong.

For climbers who have struggled with recreational substance abuse, caloric restriction, over training, monomania or Benzos, "Death Grip" will provide a haunting and instructive journey. Matt Samet has dug very deep to find the treasure beneath many layers of suffering and toil.

J.Roatch · · Leavenworth, WA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 120

Great review!

Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145

Another plus-one for a must read.
Coincidentally, I've help step five people down from benzo over-use through the past few weeks with noticeable improvement. Reminded me of this book. Drug has its place and is effective, but man, can put people in a state of badness.

Royal · · Santa Rosa, CA · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 405

I personally wasn't crazy about the book. Of course I didn't finish it so I suppose my opinion is worth less. I think mostly I had a hard time identifying with Matt's struggles so it appealed to me less. I'm sure Matt's a cool guy, and most people seem to love it.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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