Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Title: Into the Wild
Author: Jon Krakauer
Audio Narrator: Philip Franklin
Audio Duriation: 7 hours, 6 minutes
Published: 1996; Pages: 224
Why I read it: I'd seen Into the Wild several times on the list of downloadable audiobooks at the library, but it never screamed out to me. But when my brother was assigned the book for his high school summer reading, I jumped on the opportunity to listen alongside him. I wrote about our experience briefly in my Sunday Salon post, but in short it was a great experience.
In Short: Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless, a 24 year old who in 1992 trekked into the Alaskan wilderness to live off the land for a few months but tragically perished. McCandless seems to be an incredibly misunderstood individual with many theories about his Alaskan experience, but Krakauer attempts to shed light on McCandless's unique personality and the circumstances of his great misfortune.
Thoughts in General: OK, enough of the blah blah blah formalities. I loved this book. At first I simply could not understand what would drive someone to head to Alaska, in so many ways ill-prepared, to try to become one with nature and to live off the land. But as the story unravelled and Krakauer really delved into the mindset of McCandless as well as his background and upbringing I found myself completely fascinated by his story.
Chris McCandless was such a complicated young man--he didn't get along with his parents at all and seemed to abhor their life decisions. In many instances he appeared to be combative towards them--at least in an emotional sense--but on the other hand he touched the lives of so many that he met along his journey. I can't pretend to understand what it was exactly that drove McCandless to live the life of a vagabond and Krakauer does show Chris's arrogance and naivte throughout the book, but in many ways I also admire him for following a life that he so deeply and passionately believed in.
I won't go on and on because a lot of the charm of this book is the peeling back of layers to get to the heart of Chris McCandless's epic journey, but this book really spoke to me. It is no secret that Chris dies in Alaska--I think his story is a fairly famous one--but I couldn't help but be devasated by the end of the book. For all the idiodic things that he did and for all the criticism that he has received, you can't help but feel for him.
Bottom Line: I'd definitely recommend this book, especially as an audiobook experience. I thought the narration was wonderful and really pulled me into the story. I think criticism for this book might come in not understanding or agreeing with Chris McCandless's decisions, but there is a lot in the book about human nature that I found to be particularly interesting. I did watch the movie and found it a little boring but it was a good companion to the book.
Nick gave me Into Thin Air for my birthday and I'm going to make it a point to read it sooner rather than later. I'm looking forward to it!
Have you read Into the Wild? What did you think?