Sunday, March 31, 2013

J: Week 12 (Into the Wild)

I borrowed this book, Into the Wild, from my brother years ago. I knew the basic story and found it fascinating -- especially since I had read one of Jon Krakauer's other books (Into Thin Air) and really liked it -- but for some reason I didn't get around to it until just recently.

I probably became re-interested in it because last September I somehow found myself on a 6-day backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon and started to really understand why people love getting away from civilization and just enjoying the outdoors. Growing up in the city/suburbs, I had never even been camping before last year! But I mean, this was a guided trip - we went with a company that provided all of our food and gear and even cooked every meal for us - and it was seriously tough. I don't think I'd want to do something that intense again. So the thought of just going out alone into the wilderness for weeks and months at a time with no one really knowing where you were? That I couldn't fathom.

Krakauer does a great job building the story. He starts with Chris McCandless' fate and then goes back to trace his journey and try to piece together his complex personality. He explains that a lot of people labeled McCandless as simply foolish and unprepared but I was actually pretty impressed by how long he did sustain his wandering lifestyle. I think in the end it was really his idealism that got him in trouble. It's ultimately a sad story but still an incredible one.

Right after I finished the book I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie version was free for streaming from Amazon Prime. Emile Hirsch plays Chris McCandless and I thought he was pretty fantastic. Reading about what he went through physically is one thing but seeing it made it even more powerful. I remember one of the notable things about the movie was that Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam contributed original songs to the soundtrack and I thought his sound was actually extremely fitting.

I highly recommend both the book and the movie!

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