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Book review: Mountain Punk by John Dexter Jones

Written by Fiona

July 17 2023

Writer and walker John Dexter Jones has written a book called Mountain Punk, which focuses on his passion for the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia) in Wales.

John is a local. He grew up in Bangor and his family worked in the quarries, on the farms and in the ports. He has been Eryri for almost 50 years years and, for the first 20 years of his life, he opened the curtains on a view that stretched from Foel Fras in the east to Yr Wyddfa in the west.

John says: “I know Eryri. I’m part of the place and it is part of me.”

What is Mountain Punk?

Mountain Punk relates mainly, although not exclusively, to John’s relationship with the mountains of Eryri. It’s a collection of short stories and poems that invites the reader to consider a less conventional approach to visiting the hills and mountains. It is not a guide but an emotional, less material, reflection on the high places and what they mean to him.

John hopes readers will dip in and out of the book. He says: “There is no particular structure to the book. Readers may dip in and out at will.”

He adds: “When I completed this collection of stories, I questioned who might actually want to read it. Perhaps it would be people who have experience of the mountains but who are looking to get off the beaten track?

“Maybe it would be those curious to explore the mountains and hills of Wales for the first time but who have no stomach for crowds?

“Are there people who just love to read about the high places, whether they have walked them all or never set foot on a mountain in Wales or anywhere else?

“Many books about the mountains convey excitement and adventure that is out of reach for mere mortals – they make for great reading – but I was after something more attainable.”

An example of one of the illustrations.

Mountain Punk is illustrated with paintings by John’s friend Pete Jones, a Welsh artist whose work appears in the National Gallery of Wales and The National Library of Wales.

John says: “There is a good deal of wonderful digital imagery gracing the pages of thousands of books – everyone has a good camera these days – but not everyone has the eye of a brilliant artist with which to capture the feel of Eryri .

“In another world, this would be a coffee-table book with attitude, but, as it stands, it’s a true-to-its-principles DIY effort. I’m grateful to Steph at Sound Marketing Press for her help in putting it together.”

My thoughts: Mountain Punk

The book is appealing in its simplicity. It has sat on my office desk for a couple of months and every so often I pick it up to have a flick through. It’s broken into sections of short stories and poems and these can be read one at a time.

I don’t have lots of time and nor do I have a great attention span any more. I spend so much time staring at a screen and reading or typing all day that I like a book that I can dip in and out of.

The stories are nicely composed and engaging. I wish there were more illustrations or larger headers to break up the pages of text but it’s not a major issue because there is plenty of white space around the words and the paragraphs.

The artworks are also lovely. They look under-stated at first, but the more you stare at the paintings, the greater the depth.

I can see this book being a nice gift for a friend, or the sort of item you might buy for yourself and have it lying around the house for a short read whenever you are feeling like you want to be in the mountains, but you are sat at home.

John clearly has a life-long love and intimate knowledge of Snowdonia and takes readers off the beaten track.

I like this publication and I have now left it on our living room table for house guests to enjoy.

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