Penny's Reviews > Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
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Sep 12, 2007

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Read in February, 2007

An absorbing book, but also quite a downer. In 1992 Chris McCandless, a young man recently out of college, hiked out into the Alaskan wilderness -- a few months later (as Krakauer tells us from the beginning of the book), his body is found: he starved to death. For the rest of the book, Krakauer tells us Chris's story, and speculates why he, and others, are drawn to immersing themselves in the wilderness. A number of the stories Krakauer tells are gripping -- one of them is about his own experience making a solo climb in Alaska as a young man and how easily it could have led to his death. While a number of the characters Krakauer describes are fascinating, Chris McCandless is not one of them. Throughout the book, I found him unsympathetic -- self-absorbed and self-indulgent, immature, a cypher. I think Krakauer did the best he could with the material he had: maybe McCandless just wasn't my kind of guy. Ultimately, my lack of interest in the main character diminished my investment in the book.

At just the same time I was finishing the book, one of my colleagues mentioned that she had seen the movie "Grizzly Man" -- she borrowed my book, I rented the movie and we had a really good conversation a week later comparing Chris McCandless to Timothy Treadwell (I found Treadwell the more sympathetic). The book and movie make an interesting combo.
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Erin You got it! McCandless was misguided at best and delusional at worst. Krakuer wasn't glorifying him at all.


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