Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

I wasn't entirely sure whether I'd read this book before, Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. I'd given it away at least once, but that's not the same thing, and I'm pretty confident now that I hadn't read it before. Turns out I didn't really need to, though it did give me better context for the movie version I watched the other night (on my computer, with headphones so I could appreciate Kristen Stewart's singing just a little better!) -- the story was about what I'd gathered it was, and Krakauer's writing was about how it usually is.

It's a painful story, the death and short life of Chris McCandless. He doesn't make it all that easy for just anyone to like him ("Alexander Supertramp"? really?), but his passion and his exceptionalism and his sense of quest are genuinely attractive, especially to people who'd really like to see the world become a better place in some particular ways -- ie, to so many of us environmentalists, though not all of us. And Krakauer does a good job with his characters and story, and I think he did a really nice job of building his own experiences into the story (in part to explain McCandless' attractiveness to so many of the people who knew him or heard of him after his death).

But does it need a larger audience than it has already found? I don't think so. I was pondering, as I read, whether I thought the book would endure for very long; it depends, I guess, on when and how the global economy collapses, but McCandless' story will resonate for a long time with most of the potential collapse forms, and Krakauer's telling of his story is just fine.

It's no Golden Spruce, of course, but then what is?


fiona-h said…
what do you mean by this:
"and Krakauer's writing was about how it usually is."
(I loved this book, by the way!)
richard said…
Well, if you loved it, I'd best watch myself! :-)

I meant only that his writing is kind of predictable, in that he inserts himself into the story as a questioning but mostly supportive figure. I wouldn't call his prose especially literary, but it's really effective as long-form journalism. I wouldn't pick up a Krakauer book because I liked his writing style; it works great for the stories he's telling, but for me, his books work because of the stories and the research, including the way he finds a way to inhabit the story himself.

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