Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer

Well, I am looking forward to reading this book because I really liked Into Thin Air by the same author. I mean, I really liked it–I have read it more than twice even though I already know how it ends.

Edited to add…
OK. I really liked this book and it was definitely a page-turner. As much as we like to joke about my brother and his wanderlust ways, I’m pretty sure he isn’t as insistent about nature as this guy. I have no doubts whatsoever that he would pull a stunt like this. So that anxiety can be put to rest.

I waver between wondering if someone should have intervened in this boy’s mental health or if this really was the ultimate expression of seizing the day. I wish that the paperback version I read had pictures; I would have liked to have seen some images from his photo journal, although I guess that is a gruesome desire. (I intend to go look them up online presently.) I found the story compelling, especially within the context of Great American Literature. It is interesting that this was portrayed to some extent in fiction and non-fiction as the Great American Ideal a century and a half ago. I remember studying Thoreau in college; we made much of the fact that, although Walden urges complete self-reliance, in real life he still went home every week basically to have his laundry done by his mother. We also talked about how this kind of Romantic pursuit was strictly in the province of men. Women tend not to do this kind of thing. Plus they were required for men to be able to even write about it, because you can’t really be responsible for foraging and hunting and creating the means for survival in the wilderness AND writing about it. There isn’t enough time in the day.

I don’t want to wax philosophical about sexist constructions, nor do I want to wax philosophical about much because I believe this book really was intended to be a biography and not a Statement. But it is interesting that people scorn civilization even as they continue to rely on it. It is very interesting to me that McCandless set up camp in a pre-existing cabin that was formerly a public works vehicle paid for with tax dollars. I am not criticizing him–believe you me, starting with shelter is hardly cheating and he only ever intended to be there a month–but it hammers home the point that even the remote regions of the Earth are not free from the trappings of technology, society, and progress. But do even these “wild men” want to be completely free of that? In the book much is made of Chris’s pride about a leather belt he tooled himself. Tooling leather is a luxury pursuit that he would not have had time to pursue if he was struggling to survive every minute of the day.

I get tired of civilization bashing. I know there are materialistic excesses but there is nothing wrong with technology. You can’t convince me that people living in survivalist hardship wouldn’t trade their lives for ours in a second. But that is a digression, which means I have run out of things to say about this book, so I shall end the review in five… four… three… two… KM OUT.

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