Friday, November 16, 2007

Book Review: Into the Wild

November 16, 2007

This book by Jon Krakauer has been on my "to read" list for years. Krakauer is an excellent storyteller. Both Under the Banner of Heaven and Into Thin Air are mesmerizing accounts; and, while I didn't find Into the Wild as compelling as the others, it's still fascinating.

The story: Chris McCandless, a recent college graduate from a wealthy family, hitchhikes to Alaska and heads into the wilderness with a bag of rice and little else. Chris takes the name Alexander Supertramp and survives off the land, eating mostly squirrels and other small game. By the end of the summer, Chris is dead. Some Alaskans and wilderness experts claim he was stupid, cocky, and careless; Krakauer seems to believe that he was the victim of a series of unfortunate events.

The question of Into the Wild for me, as the reader, is much the same as Into Thin Air: What makes one risk everything to taste--to embrace--ultimate danger? What is inside a person who needs to be swallowed up in nature--whether by the Everest or by the Alaskan wilderness? Krakauer obviously understands, being a wilderness seeker/conquerer himself, and I appreciate his careful research and painstaking piecing-together of the events and motives that lead one to shed his self and walk into the wild.

The movie is now playing, and now that I've read the book, I am eager to see it.

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