Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a nonfiction account of the wandering pilgrimage of Chris McCandless that eventually lead him to his tragic death in the Alaska wilderness in 1992. Originally published in 1996, my paperback copy is 207 pages. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. After I finished it I wondered why I put off reading it for so long, especially since I also really enjoyed Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven.
The story of McCandless is introduced right on the cover of my edition with the following words: "In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to a charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet and invented a life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter...." Rating: 4.5

From Amazon:
"After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men's Journal, retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seed pods. - Publishers Weekly; Reed Business Information"
"Indeed, were it not for one or two seemingly insignificant blunders, he would have walked out of the woods in August 1992 as anonymously as he walked into them in April."

"Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however; that cares nothing for hope or longing."

"I think maybe part of what got him into trouble was that he did too much thinking. Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world..."

"He just didn't make the connection. It was like he was off in his own universe."

"Nor was McCandless endowed with a surfeit of common sense. Many who knew him have commented, unbidden, that he seemed to have great difficulty seeing the trees, as it were, for the forest."

McCandless was a seeker and he had an impractical fascination with the harsh side of nature."
"He wasn't antisocial - he always had friends, and everybody liked him - but he could go off and entertain himself for hours...He could be alone without being lonely."

1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for the review. After seeing the movie, I added this one to my TBR.