Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer *****

I've intended to read Krakauer for a long time, but other things have always gotten in the way or I've simply forgotten about his work. A coworker of mine, however, recently insisted I read his work and was so insistent that she brought me the book. Not wanting to take my current library book reading to the beach, I opted to take Krakauer instead. So while I read about this Chris McCandless starving to death as he attempted to commune with nature, I communed with a different and much cushier sort of nature. And yet, despite the odd juxtaposition of landscapes and situations, I could strangely identify.

When younger, I too had a desire to take off on wild trips. I too had a desire to prove that I could "make it on my own." I too wanted just to bum around the country, taking odd jobs as I could. Perhaps this passion is in all young people--or all young men. But few of us dare do such things--I never did. And then, I think, many of us outgrow them. What do I mean by that? McCandless's desire to go it alone struck me as a kind of immaturity one goes through in the twenties. By the time one hits thirty, one knows there is no such thing--we are social creatures. We exist in culture and by culture. Even when "independent," we are dependent--on each other, if not at least on God. But I admire McCandless for doing what I couldn't and wouldn't have done.

The story itself that Krakauer reads is very engaging. The guy is a craftsman in terms of setting up a good plot. Start somewhere toward the end, and then begin again, somewhere near the start. Tell us only what we need to know when we need to know it. Keep us reading. That he did, for me--and I guess for many others given his robust sales.

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