Sunday, March 24, 2013

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

Oh man. Another exhausting, hair-raising, fascinating book by an author who introduced me to the perils of mountain climbing in 1997's Into Thin Air. Actually, it wasn't so much the mountain climbing that was perilous, although that it is, but the large-groups-of-paying-customers-on-an-expensive-outing that gets to be perilous when combined with the tallest mountain on the planet. Into Thin Air is an interesting look into human nature and the business of mountain climbing.

Anyhoo, back to this book.

I listened to Into The Wild as an audiobook after putting it off for some years. I don't know, but having three sons of my own in their late teens and early twenties, a tale like this gives me the heebie-jeebies. Although I love hiking and the idea of going solo and living off the land, it was hard not to judge Chris McCandless as being woefully unprepared with an almost belligerent determination to prove some kind of point.  I don't believe I will ever understand this aspect of youthful risk taking. My lame armchair opinions aside, though, the author does a thoroughly excellent job of retracing Chris's steps and uncovering as much information as could be had about Chris's personality, behaviour, and family history, all interspersed with the author's own adventuring experience and coming-of-age. The book not only explores this particular case but those of others throughout history who ventured out and failed to return. Since we usually only ever hear of the successes, it's interesting to try to understand where things went wrong in such cases. As for Chris, there are many theories as to what prevented him from returning to civilization  after spending the summer camped at an abandoned bus in the Alaskan bush, and the author leaves no stone unturned in looking for the most likely answer. It's a sad but well researched story.


JoAnn said...

I really liked Into Thin Air! My daughter's high school English class read this one a few years ago and I've had her copy on my shelf to read ever since.

Trish said...

He's an excellent writer, that's for sure. I've read some accounts of peoples' treks to Everest, but never one quite as thoroughly engrossing as Krakauer's.

Book Dilettante said...

How sad to contemplate what may happened to him.

Trish said...

Yes, terribly sad.