The Rage: Reflections on Risk.


176 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 978-1-894765-63-3
DDC 158.1




Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is a ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster, B.C.


This collection of stories and essays is not for the faint of heart—the author would have no respect for such an audience. Steve De Maio may be a legendary climber and extreme sports enthusiast, but his writing style excludes non-climbers (despite a cursory glossary in the back) with the incessant jargon and lazy slang. His arrogance and his intolerance of anyone not in his select group are palpable and infuriating. (“‘Man, if I were someone else up here, he might not know how to do this!’ At that moment, I was glad I was me.”) The section of South American travel essays is nothing more than tales of how he was cheated, nearly robbed, and delayed by the locals in his quest for the next sporting challenge.


The collection is broken into five sections, based on stages in De Maio’s career. Descriptions of various climbs abound—both solo and with others. Some essays are accompanied by mediocre poems that merely repeat his favourite phrases from the text.


De Maio’s essays and stories are rife with dated slang (referring to fingers as “meat hooks” or “Any error in any link could have ‘not fun’ consequences”), dull repetition (in most stories he “chortles” at least once, three times in one account), and meaningless self-talk (“My mind raced. Fable! Fable! Fable! Did I have enough gear? Just …”). The storytelling is often flawed: in the story of one climb, he encounters an animal in a cave, referring to it as “he” and “the bugger,” but never actually identifying its species. In another, “The Obsession,” he describes one climb attempt year after year, but rushes through both the final successful attempt and his tribute to the friends that had died.


To the like-minded, De Maio’s accounts of how he rode The Rage (the animal-like manic stages that fuelled the risk-taking of his younger years) up countless faces of rock will be a worthwhile investment of time.


De Maio, Steve., “The Rage: Reflections on Risk.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,