Into The Wild


Chris McCandless, a young man from a well to do family, hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness. He had given all his savings to charity, abandoned his car and possessions, burnt all the money in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a hunter. Jon Krakauer, bestselling author of Into Thin Air, uses McCandless' restless progress around the wide spaces of North America to explore the call of the wild and the mentality of those who succumb to it. What emerges from this mesmerising, heartbreaking story is a version of the wilderness that is hard and seductive, a place where one can quite possibly find one's self, but also opening the dark possibility that we might find our own nature strange and disturbing. As a general rule, I don't read non-fiction, it's just not my kind of thing and I usually end up feeling pretty bored by it. There are some occasions where my interest is piqued enough that I want to know more about something, and that was the case with this book. I had seen the film, Into the Wild which I really loved, but couldn't really make up my mind how I felt about Chris McCandless. In the author's note at the beginning of the book...

Jon Krakauer says that his original article about his death generated an enormous amount of mail, with people falling into two camps: some readers admired the boy immensely for his courage and noble ideals, others fulminated that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity. This is what I couldn't make my mind up about, and I decided to read the book to try to find out more. The book opens with the account of the man who drove McCandless to the place where he began his trek into the wilds of Alaska, and follows with the story of the hunters who found his body in the bus where he had made camp. The book contains the information Krakauer discovered about McCandless' life before leaving his family and the two years he spent wandering around all over America. Interspersed is stories of other wanderers, and a depiction of his own wilderness adventure as a young man. All of this information paints the picture of a young man who had not found his place in the world, was confused and had a restless and passionate spirit who was looking for some semblance of truth in a world he couldn't understand. To be continued...

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