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The Way Out: A True Story of Ruin and Survival
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The Way Out: A True Story of Ruin and Survival

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  234 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Craig Childs is lost. In a labyrinth of canyons in the American Southwest where virtually nothing else is alive-barely any vegetation, few signs of wildlife, scant traces of any human precursors in this landscape-Childs and his friend Dirk undertake a fortnight's journey.
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 3rd 2007 by Back Bay Books (first published January 7th 2005)
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I purchased this for about 20p from my local library so to be completely honest, I wasn't really expecting too much but it sounded like a good read, so I got it anyway. All the more appealing as apparently, it is based on a true story.

It supposedly is a tale of survival, a man lost in the deserts of America, whilst on a nature trek with a friend and fellow nature enthusiast, called Dirk.

I therefore expected, given the nature of the book, details of the surroundings, sure. However, for all of th
Waverly Fitzgerald
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I just reread this book, after taking a class with Craig Childs. I have to admit I loved it more the second time through. The description of the labyrinthine journey through the canyons is compelling, and the language is lyrical and spectacular. I especially love the personal stories of both Childs (mostly focusing on his relationship with his difficult and challenging father) and his companion, Dirk, an ex-cop (who has seen the worst of human nature due to his job). These stories resonate with ...more
Sabrina Corpac
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great survival hike by a traveling partnership. The action of Dirk's cophood with Craig's mixed feelings/memories of his dad blends in with this spiritual journey of overcoming obstacles and letting go.
Julie Weston
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Craig Childs is one of my favorite writers. I have now read all of his books and recommend all of them. This story of survival enthralls and devastates. Childs has a way of drawing in readers, especially this reader, into his stories, so I feel as if I have lived them. It is always with sadness when I complete reading his books, and I am usually tempted to go back and begin one of his books all over again.
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what I expected. It was interesting in parts but I was hoping for more description of the canyons and less philosophy.
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sitting on shelf just waiting. A remarkable read of desert canyon hiking and self discovery. Nearly spiritual. Ok, more than nearly.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to reading this --- hoping for something along the same lines as Fire Season or The Last Season, or even Childs' other works --- but found myself disappointed. It was an okay read, but I found the descriptions overwrought. Despite my usual ability to visualize outdoor settings, I had a very hard time picturing the environs described here, and an even more difficulty empathizing with the author's description of his emotional responses to the space. Worth a read, but n ...more
Michael John
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this type of writing. Craig Childs does an excellent job of finding the way out of the "civilized" world in which we live and into the labyrinthine canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Two issues however. First, I didn't ever feel as if he and Dirk were lost. The sensation of panic and desperation never seemed tangible to this reader. Childs seemed more at home in the wilds than he did in the flashbacks to urban life. Dirk as well. These men seem awkward when dealing with society yet a ...more
Crystal Fall
When I started this book I thought, man this guy is a deep thinker maybe too deep by times. After reading for a while about their backstories, upbringing and inner struggles it started making more sense. This isn't your average walk through the woods hiking book and is more of a spiritual journey in a spiritual place. The flashback stories are good and the writing is rather good," Just go with it." I've been on hikes where you have to get to point B and get out before it gets dark, and don't get ...more
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I absolutely love Craig Child's writing.
His descriptions are wrenching, real and unending. The perfect example of show-don't-tell writing. I relate to his settings: I am at home in the desert, the mountains, extreme weather, the untamed. Although I don't push the boundaries as he does, he challenges me to be willing to push them a little further.
This telling kept my hands sweaty from p.127 on. It could have all gone very wrong. I know that feeling of despair, relief, what do I do about that bobc
Jason Roth
Craig Childs writing continuously expresses his love and fascination of the various landscapes that he traverses, most often (like in this book) the southwestern U.S. Although he is very creative with his descriptions, I'm someone who isn't quite as familiar with that specific landscape and got confused at times and found it hard to visualize and put myself in that place. Also, although it seems like he had to include them for his own personal reasons, his portrayal of his traveling companion an ...more
Sep 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the twisting chasms, sloping domes and crashing boulders of southern Utah Craig Childs sits, pen and journal in hand infusing the landscape with his drama. His close companion Dirk, no less dramatic, stabs the air with his pointed observations. Fortunately there are little flashbacks recalling Dirk's days as a cop and Craig's interactions with his crazy ass father. Without these, I fear the book would drown in the sometimes confusing, deeply involved, poetic style that Craig employs to descri ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found the writing loathesome, often wrenched into 'creative' or pretentious constructions that get in the way of the book. For example, "my eye is so easily caught by the extravagant flash of entropy and of gestation that I forgot that between these two is inestimable dust" (WTF?). Moreover, it is quite boring, with relatively little action as the two men struggle to cross chasms. The only entertaining parts are when he recounts dark stories from the past. I would ordinarily love a book about ...more
Linda Martin
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like to read "true life drama" and pushing the limit, living on the edge...this is a book for you. Any body ever read Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitaire?" Abbey was one of the most unconventional environmentalists since Muir. Craig Childs just picks up wheree Abbey left off and pushesthe limit even further. He is one intelligent guy as far as knowledge of survival in canyons and deserts.
Purple Osprey
It's got slow paced chapters about walking and climbing and faster paced chapters of flashbacks. It could be a good book. I found it hard to visualize and hard to follow. Ok, I'm not familiar at all with the landscapes he tries to describe, but I remember how I read every book by Jules Verne (for an example)and could picture every scene in every foreign land.
Sooo, not so good writing here I would say.
Alan Williams
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could write descriptive narrative text the way Craig Childs does. His use of language is inspiring, as is the use of flashbacks to tell the various parts of this story.

At times however the descriptive narrative style can overtake the story, and become just a little too much. Too much detail, too often and the story falters rather than flows. It's a bit of a harsh criticism for a book that I really enjoyed, but I suspect that it might put many readers off.
R. Patrick
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-writing
A journey that risks death through the caverns and canyons of southern Utah. A journey inward as well, as the author comes to grips with his memories of his abusive father. Inter-meshed with it is the story of his friend Dirk, with whom the author is traveling, a person who has lived with risk and death most of his life. Both have seen violence that they must live with, but can never escape.
sarah  corbett morgan
I was a little hesitant when I started this book. It seemed Hemingwayesque in it's macho two-men-bonding-in-the-wilderness voice, but I was soon caught up in Child's lyrical descriptions of the canyonlands, his memories of his father, and Dirk's dark story of his life as a cop. It's good. It's very very good.

Oct 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice interweaving of flashbacks of his relationship with his father and his hiking buddy's experiences as a cop with being in the canyons of Utah. This is a testament to the power of nature/wilderness to provide a constructive & educational addiction (as opposed to the seeming dead end of alcohol/drugs.) A mountain lion points them towards the way out of endless box canyons. Amazing.
Kathy Kayser-konig
Very different from the rest of the books I have read by this author. I guess the others were mostly written about a solitary experience in the desert but this one has a second character. One I really didn't like but the story was still good.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a very satisfying read. Too metaphysical(or something) for me. Yes, the characters have issues but the way their pasts are intertwined with the story of the journey is a distraction. If you're looking for a tale of outdoor adventure, look elsewhere.
Sam Dye
This book has a disconnect with reality for me. The drama doesn't seem exactly real of being actually lost but the writing is good and the anecdotes are entertaining and informative.
Aug 09, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Dramatic narrative in the canyons of southern Utah.
Another book read for my English class. This one was my favorite of the bunch.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have loved a few pictures as I don't think the pictures in my mind captured the true beauty that he experienced on the trip.
May 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was not my favorite of his, but good. A lot of tension. I liked that he wove personal stories in with the specific journey he wrote about.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book about survival in a merciless landscape. It sometimes reads like a story on NPR, but I also didn't mind that a whole lot.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for the second time - fantastic insights into Craig, the desert, Dirk and their friendship. Some very powerful sentences within this book.
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wasn't my favorite--Thoreau joins Chris McCandless.
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CRAIG CHILDS is a commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. He has won numerous awards including the 2011 Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, 2008 Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the 2007 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and the 2003 Spirit of the West Award for his body of work.
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