Into the Wild
1 journaler for this copy...
I first read this years ago, not long after it first came out [and before the world knew of author Jon Krakauer via the Mt. Everest disaster and "Into Thin Air"]. I was fascinated by Christopher McCandless' seemingly senseless and tragic end, and found Krakauer's take on it intriguing - how thin is the line between adventure-seeking and suicidal behavior?
In brief: in 1992, McCandless, 24 years old, son of a well-off family, gave away nearly all of his possessions and hiked into the Alaskan wilderness. Several months later his body was found - he'd starved to death. Much of the book consists of attempts to understand McCandless' decisions, and to figure out what went wrong; from his writings it doesn't seem as if he went up there intending to die...
It seems that Krakauer may have understood McCandless fairly well; he recounts one of his own early climbing adventures, in which he could very easily have been killed, and points out that it was largely chance that let him survive while McCandless died. Krakauer's summation of his own experience:
"It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it. When I decided to go to Alaska that April, like Chris McCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devils Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams. And I lived to tell my tale."
"At that stage of my youth, death remained as abstract a concept as non-Euclidean geometry or marriage. I didn't yet appreciate its terrible finality or the havoc it could wreak on those who'd entrusted the deceased with their hearts. I was stirred by the dark mystery of mortality. I couldn't resist stealing up to the edge of doom and peering over the brink. The hint of what was concealed in those shadows terrified me, but I caught sight of something in the glimpse, some forbidden and elemental riddle that was no less compelling than the sweet, hidden petals of a woman's sex. In my case - and, I believe, in the case of Chris McCandless - that was a very different thing from wanting to die."
But the book's not totally a downer, nor completely a cautionary tale; it presents one individual's personal quest and its results, and weaves in the threads of many other lives that were touched by this one. A compelling story.
[I enjoyed the film version of the book, although it focused on McCandless and left out most of Krakauer's own memoirs and musings. Still, a poignant look at an unusual person. There's a TV Tropes page on the film and book, too.]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
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*** Released for the 2018 Into the Wild release challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2018 Movie release challenge. ***