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Into the Wild By Jon Krakauer Unknown Binding – February 20, 1997
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I've read the book a few times...as a nature lover, explorer and adventure seeker myself, I completely understand his need and desire to "walk into the wild" as a mother of 4 boys, seeing how my own adult sons are still so naive and unprepared for life sometimes, I totally get how he could find himself in the situation that took his life. Had he just ventured out further into other directions, had he only does this or that, but he was young, inexperienced. A fascinating story. Sad to tears in some parts, but smiling and cheering in others. Everything happens the way it is supposed to, the way the universe, mother nature, God, has planned.
"At that stage of my youth, death remained as abstract a concept as non-Euclidean geometry or marriage. I didn’t yet appreciate its terrible finality or the havoc it could wreak on those who’d entrusted the deceased with their hearts. I was stirred by the dark mystery of mortality. I couldn’t resist stealing up to the edge of doom and peering over the brink. The hint of what was concealed in those shadows terrified me, but I caught sight of something in the glimpse, some forbidden and elemental riddle that was no less compelling than the sweet, hidden petals of a woman’s sex. In my case— and, I believe, in the case of Chris McCandless— that was a very different thing from wanting to die."
The quotations from Thoreau to Tolstoy to Jack London (usually sections found highlighted by Chris McCandless) place what could have been a pathetic, self-absorbed adventure gone terribly wrong into a much larger context, making it all start to make sense by the end of the book.
"...suddenly you were on your own, you had to learn to walk by yourself. There was no one around, neither family nor people whose judgment you respected. At such a time you felt the need of committing yourself to something absolute— life or truth or beauty— of being ruled by it in place of the man-made rules that had been discarded. You needed to surrender to some such ultimate purpose more fully, more unreservedly than you had ever done in the old familiar, peaceful days, in the old life that was now abolished and gone for good.
"BORIS PASTERNAK, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO PASSAGE HIGHLIGHTED IN ONE OF THE BOOKS FOUND WITH CHRIS MCCANDLESS’S REMAINS."
I do not share McCandless's obsession with "the wild" but like most of us with a Y chromosome, I can relate at some primitive level. Our species evolved because of our extraordinary curiosity and desire to roam. Our ancestors all walked out of Africa only a few hundred thousand years ago and we have been walking ever since. The idea that there is nothing untamed left to explore or experience offends us somehow. McCandless took this idea to a ridiculous, tragic extreme, but it's hard not to respect the spirit driving him even if we can shake our heads at his naïveté.
There are more questions than answers about this young man and his demise - did he realize he wasn't really in the wild after all but a few miles from a major highway? was he the one who vandalized and trashed the nearby well-stocked cabins? what exactly did he eat that may have so suddenly incapacitated him after he had survived so long on his own wits (and firearms)? had he survived, would he have returned home and reconciled with his family, having answered whatever burning question he had to answer on his own?
I feel that Krakauer is inviting us into a crime scene. We have a body, some clues, but so many more questions. What Krakauer excels at developing is motive, taking us into the mind of this young man (who the author annoyingly refers to as a "boy" although he was approaching his mid-twenties) and walking us through his final days.
It's a fascinating, gripping read. If I could give it 6 starts, I would.
Christopher constantly challenged himself to find an adventure by taking responsibility in fulfilling his void in life; a true journey. He defiantly pushed his limits and allowed life to take him under its wing. Friends, memories, and many miles where accumulated during his travels as he continued to learn more about himself and the uncontrolled elements of nature. Down to his last breath he was able to stay strong to his motive and measure himself with the support and freedom of nature.
Despite the scattered timeline of the written story, Into the Wild was a very enjoyable read. Christopher's journey is very inspiring due to his ultimate goal to live independent from material substances, however depended on the forces of his current natural surroundings. I would rate this book a seven out of ten and absolutely applaud the accuracy of Jon Krakauer. By publishing the inspiring life journey of Chris McCandless, Krakauer was truly able to fulfill Chris's motto, "Happiness only real when shared."