Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Into the Wild

My sister-in-law recently recommended Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, and since the movie just came out, I decided I better read it.

The book recounts the events that led to Chris McCandless’s death in the Alaska wilderness. Krakauer is a journalist (and outdoors enthusiast) and thoroughly researched his subject, tracing McCandless’s steps and interviewing those who knew him and met him on his journey.

Krakauer is not an elegant writer. However, his straightforward, journalistic style is appropriate for the content. He does not place words in McCandless’s mouth, assign motivations for his conduct, nor overly speculate on what happened or why.

I appreciate Krakauer’s willingness to let the reader come to his/her own conclusions about McCandless and his decisions. Not everyone is so willing to trust his audience.

(For example, although the movie got good reviews, I strongly disliked Open Water because it is full of speculation. The movie claims to be based on a true story. Yet, no one actually knows what happened to the two stranded divers because no one else was there as a witness. How, then, can the movie be true?)

Krakauer also includes several histories of other “adventurers” and part of his own story. I felt a bit impatient during these scenes. They are supposedly meant to parallel, and perhaps shed light on, McCandless’s journey, but they feel more like unnecessary filler.

I’ve heard some critics suggest that McCandless was mentally ill. I was surprised, then, with how much I could relate to him. No, I have never wanted to hitchhike across the United States or forage for berries in the Alaskan wilderness. But I have had such strong desires to travel, to see things, to have adventures that I ache inside. Perhaps, this simply means I am also mentally disturbed.


notaconnoisseur said...

Sorry. Not a chance of your being mentally ill. A lot of us would be mentally ill if the indicator is that we want to leave the routine of daily life behind for awhile.

Chris said...

I hope to see this movie soon. I would be interested in you reading the Krukauer's book about the Laffertys. My boss told me it was obvious he didn't do his research about the Mormon religion. He said many errors were included about the religion. Perhaps this would change your feelings about Into the Wild.

Blogger said...

I didn't realize he wrote that book until after I'd read Into the Wild. I was very surprised since he has no expertise in the field--and apparently, according to your boss, it shows.