A falling boulder inflicted such a terrible brain injury that hospital staff thought that he might never walk or even speak again. Pritchard spent the next year fighting the hemiplegia which paralysed his right side and played tricks with his speech and memory. In his fight for recovery the reader triumphs with him when his brain remembers how to use each forgotten muscle.
The book laces great climbing memories with coming to terms with selling his climbing gear and becoming an onlooker. It paints a wry picture of himself and his fellow clients at a neuro-rehabilitation unit near Liverpool. It examines his altered relationships with family, friends and his former partner Celia Bull, whose superhuman efforts secured him after the accident.
At the close of this humane, perceptive and completely unself-pitying book Paul, his wheelchair given back to the hospital, returns to Tasmania to film and reflect on a new existence.
This is the 20th anniversary edition of The Totem Pole. Going back to the original files. The author has restored the original text that was previously edited out - mostly on the grounds of offensive language; however that only reflected Pritchard's disinhibition.
There is a new foreword by Conrad Anker and are now there are fifty-five colour photographs. Plus that classic cover photo by Simon Carter.