Mark Stevens's Reviews > Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer

Finding Everett Ruess by David  Roberts
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 05, 2011

it was amazing
Read from June 16 to 23, 2011

It’s hard to warm up to the self-indulgent Everett Ruess, but there’s no denying he was an individual who followed his heart. It’s hard to watch him take advantage of his parents to pursue his wanderlust (even that term seems to mild) but he’s a unique spirit and reading about his treks—and thinking about how he put his wanderings together—is compelling. If you know the country in the Four Corners area, Ruess’s hikes and months-long travels around the inhospitable landscape are even more incredible. The conditions must have been brutal.

Roberts’ portrait is neutral, clear-eyed. He works to separate myth from reality. Ruess is a warts-and-all character, “almost arrogant.” His letters requesting items from his parents “smacks of entitlement.” He is vagabond but if he’s a paragon of solo adventuring, one hopes he is not a role model for how to treat friends or casual acquaintances or family, for that matter. As Roberts acknowledges, he is a “complicated and articulate young adventurer” and it’s easy to see why Ruess’s life developed a cult following. Of course, a mysterious death always helps and it’s the last sections of this book, as Roberts becomes directly involved in the search of Ruess’s remains, that the mystery elements of this account really take off. Roberts is equally upfront about his role in the zealous drive to find the spot where Ruess perished and help tell the story about how he died. Hats off to Roberts for looking hard in the mirror on this one.

If you enjoyed “Into the Wild,” you will likely enjoy this, too. Christopher McCandless and Everett Ruess were joined at the spiritual hip, as Jon Krakauer points out in “Into the Wild” and as he recaps in the forward here. There are certain people who are just born to live outdoors and who are completely fearless in the effort to place themselves, completely alone, in nature. For me, that was the real pleasure of reading “Finding Everett Ruess,” to think about what propels explorers of any age to venture off on their own and try to capture the experience in words or art.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Finding Everett Ruess.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.