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I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail Paperback – April 15, 2013
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At times wrenching memoir, at times hilarious, I Promise Not to Suffer pulls no punches and has a wicked sense of fun. Storey reminds me again of what is possible with a big imagination, a dose of scrappy courage, and a lot of love. ---Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars and Kook
Some have called Gail Storey the Nora Ephron of the wilderness. With her own unique wit, Storey shares Ephron's commitment to creating and tending a long, nourishing marriage. I Promise Not to Suffer is a portrait of a union that does not fray or break under pressure but is forged, toughened, and tenderized. - --Sara Davidson, author of Leap!, Loose Change, and The December Project
Witty, wise, and full of heart, Gail Storey's winning memoir of her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail at the age of fifty-six is a book for every one who ever dreamed of taking the road less traveled. I Promise Not to Suffer is as inspiring as it is hilarious, as poignant as it is smart. It's one of those oh-please-don't-let-it-end books. I'd carry it in my backpack anywhere ---Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
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I've read several books about solo long hikes, and I was interested in reading about a couple doing a hike since my hubby and I are interested in doing one. I wish I had skipped this book.
The author, with three master's degrees and apparently no job, is an ex-hippie turned spoiled princess. She says things, in all seriousness, like "I tried to pare myself down to an essential self before I married Porter," and "I didn't need protecting from anything but my small, imagined self," and "What was my higher self, and could it save me from my lower?" (Note that "self" is a recurring theme.)
Porter, aptly named considering he carries double the weight of his wife's pack and has to rescue her constantly from her various petty perils, even asks his own wife to leave the trail shortly into their hike.
In the planning stage, Porter made their backpacks. Yes, he actually sewed them. He made their sleeping bag and tarp. He did all the research and planned their route. He made their stove. In the meantime, he works as a doctor.
The writer, on the other hand, never talks about leaving a job or any other responsibilities. Instead, she throws dinner parties with friends. She crows about her slim frame, thick hair, low body fat, and 32D chest. She whines about how much she's going to miss the red sports car her husband gave her for Valentine's Day.
And it goes on and on. Actually, it doesn't really go on that far, because....well, I don't want to spoil the book.
Others liked the book according to the reviews...but I was not a fan.
Reading this book fed my trust and faith in Life. Personally, I come from a family with a legacy of ongoing suicides, the most recent of which was my sister just last year. It was wildly uplifting to read another woman's tale of tough, event violent origins leading to a life of kindness to self and others. Learning to love more deeply and extend that to ourselves as well; how much better does Life become? In my universe we're here to love and to learn.
As a hiker who has lusted over the prospect of walking both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, I also had hopes that the book would move me to make a thru-hike of my own. But it finally sank in that this was her path and not mine, leaving me insanely grateful to have her vicarious experience.
Hopefully she will continue to write about her life. I'll read it.
I loved Storey's simple yet vivid description of the trail and their days hiking, from frigid mornings when they had to shove their chilled feet into frozen socks, to the night when Gail and the sleeping bag and tarp were blown off a mountain top. I could relate to her moods under the harsh conditions and physical challenges, and I howled at some of the bickering matches she had with her "stoic Mountain Man" husband. I also had to slow myself down from reading ahead to savor the beautiful passages where Storey describes her transformation from distracted city-dweller to profoundly grateful citizen of the Earth. "I never much cared for nature," she writes, "but nature cares for us."
Without preaching or turning herself into a self-proclaimed expert, Storey manages to captivate readers with her curiosity about herself and others, and her willingness to ask complex and sometimes troubling questions about relationships. Although she may not always have the answers (does anyone?), her prose conveys rich and valuable insights. I admit, I am still thinking about this honest and unusual love story many days later.