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Books in consideration: 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place'

February 26, 2011 |  2:25 pm

Betweenarock_aronralstonIn May 2003, Los Angeles Times readers learned the astonishing story of Aron Ralson, an adventurous 27-year-old outdoorsman who was trapped for five days when a boulder came loose and pinned his arm in a crevice. Ralston used a jackknife to amputate his own arm, then hiked for hours before reaching aid.

"He was obviously in major distress, having cut his own arm off, but he was still ambulatory," park ranger Jim Blazik told The Times.

That story, of course, came to movie screens in 2010 as "127 Hours," starring James Franco. The film has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including a nomination for director Danny Boyle and co-writer Simon Beaufoy for best adapted screenplay.

The writers had Ralston's own memoir of the accident, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," to work from.

In 2004, when the book was first published, The Times called it "the best outdoor adventure tale of the year." Ralston wrote the memoir of his fall and miraculous survival without a ghostwriter -- not to mention, without a right arm.

Reviewer Chuck Thompson wrote, "In recounting the tale that led to his dramatic field surgery, Ralston proves a gifted writer. ... Those who wondered how anyone could perform such a task will be satisfied by graphic explanations of exactly how he broke, sawed and snipped through bone and muscle."

Ralston, who will be the commencement speaker at Carnegie Mellon, his alma mater, in May, may well attend the Oscars. Interestingly, back in 2003, one park ranger who spoke to The Times seemed to foreshadow the goings-on Sunday. Describing Ralston's actions, Glenn Sherrill said, "That's true grit."

-- Carolyn Kellogg