I read Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer for my second book of the year. In hindsight, this may not have been the best choice. On top of reading this marvelous book about death, I have been slowly working my way through a philosophy of death class online. This has been an interesting week, to say the least. It also snowed last night and while snow is my third favorite thing in the world (after dinosaurs and stars, if you were curious), it adds to the fluff in my brain surrounding this book. So I will attempt to review it in an objective manner. As objective as one can be while thinking of nothing but death and snow for the past 3 days.
Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
I started reading this book because it was short. I have never seen the movie and only knew of the story from the few reviews I had read. It is not a hard book to read, nor is it dense. It is not full of big words about Alaskan terrain or plants. It actually doesn't even contain that much information about either of those things. It is a story that attempts to chronicle one man's journey into the wilderness of Alaska and doesn't make it home again.
The book was a bit thin for my liking. I would have enjoyed more information about Chris McCandless, but I understand why there wasn't more. This statement screams of self-fulfiling prophecy to me. There was no other information to include because no other information is known. And while this is acceptable and I understand the reasoning behind adding more information about other hikers and wilderness junkies into the mix, it seemed a bit unnecessary. The book felt a bit like an extended magazine article. Which it was, essentially. I am not judging it for it's roots. We all have to start somewhere. Good books start as ideas. Good novels often start a short stories. A non-fiction book often starts as an article. I understand this progression, but I wanted the book to flesh out more of the stuff it hinted at. This may just be me projecting my desires onto something I have no control over. I tend to do this. I also start reading books with a certain set of expectations in my brain and more times than not, the book will fail to live up to these expectations. Forgive me, I was the youngest child in my family who often got exactly what I wanted, so it's hard for me to accept anything less, even with books.
But enough about me. This book, for a lot of people, is one of those stories that gets under your skin. You can't stop thinking about it, ruminating on the thought process of the main character and how different he is from you. Why would this perfectly healthy 20-something year old college graduate with a relatively comfortable upbringing give up everything to march into the wilderness of Alaska with little more than a backpack and some rice? What makes him so different from us? Is it his desire to do something more, to experience something more in his life than his suburban life could have allowed? And is it his suburban upbringing that attracts us to him? Do we see ourselves in Chris/Alex? Is there a part of him in us? It is a story that lots of people are attracted to. It is also a story that a lot of people will denounce. "He's insane, emotionally bent, something is wrong with him" they want to say, when it seems that this is not the case. Maybe there is something wrong with us. Who knows.