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The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
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The Stranger in the Woods > Author Issues

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SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
August has flown by! I hope everyone has enjoyed this month’s title. In this post I want to discuss the author himself, Michael Finkel.

While reading the book, did you ever question the author’s motivations? Was Finkel always ethical and respectful in his pursuit to uncover the mystery surrounding Chris Knight? Do you think he crosses a line for the sake of the story in order to provide some resolution for the reader?

In one instance, Finkel shows up unannounced at the Knight family farm. Nobody in the family is willing to speak with him. Chris does speak to him briefly where he informs Finkel that his family does not want him speaking to Finkel.

At another point, having not heard from Knight for an extended period of time, Finkel decides to fly to Maine to see him. Thankfully, Finkel writes Knight in advance to tell him of his intentions. While Finkel is flying to Maine, a postcard arrives from Knight, pleading Finkel not to visit. The note reads: “Urgently important that you leave me alone. Show me respect by leaving me alone. Please. If you appear I will call police. Leave me alone. Please” (p. 187). Finkel respects Knight's plea and returns home.

Why do you think Knight agreed to meet with Finkel in the first place and ultimately have 9 one-hour meetings while in prison?

Along the same lines, does it seem a bit surprising that a hermit would agree to have their story told to the world?

Why would Knight agree to have a book about his story published?


Diana (librariandi) | 23 comments This is such an interesting question, Nicole! You know, I didn't really think very much about it until the end but now that I'm getting to this part, Finkel' definitely starting to get a bit creepy. Showing up at the jail is one thing, but showing up at the family farm unannounced is another. I mean, was Finkel always ethical and respectful? Not exactly. But then again, neither was Knight, was he?

It is a little surprising that Knight would agree to have his story told. However, I wonder if it was because he really did feel remorseful and wanted to let the world know he wasn't a completely horrible person?

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SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Hi Diana,

I read this book twice, once when it came out and again for the Book Club. On first reading I was almost taken aback by Finkel's behaviour - showing up at the farm, flying out to see Knight, etc. I understand that he wanted to find some resolution to the story for himself and his readers but it felt like he was crossing a line. Finkel did respect Knight's wishes but I felt a bit embarrassed that it had to get to the point where Knight had to write a letter pleading Finkel to leave him alone.

The second time I read the book, however, I didn't have that same reaction. Perhaps it was because I knew what was going to happen but I didn't have that same feeling about Finkel's actions being disrespectful. I could also have seen that Finkel and Knight did have a relationship and Knight was willing to put some trust in Finkel.

Good point! By having Finkel write his story, Knight was able to make sure that he was represented accurately. He is a man who values truth and honesty and seemed bothered when the media portrayed him as a mentally unstable hermit. Through Finkel, an accurate version of Knight's story could be told - both the good and the bad.

In Finkel's interview on TVO's The Agenda, he mentions another possible reason Knight agreed to meet with him and have his story published. By telling his complete story, from start to finish, Knight wouldn't have to answer another question about his journey again - it's all in the book! If he's ever pursued by the media, he can refer them to the book as his response. I thought that was pretty clever!

Thanks again for your feedback!


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