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Topic: Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

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Subject: Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
Date Posted: 7/22/2008 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2008
Posts: 664
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I guess this is the right forum to put this. After days of mulling over what I thought about this book, I feel I need to put it in writing.

As I read this book I started wondering why was it even written. The author had to add chapters about himself and other people to make it enough to be called a book. Many people go on exciting adventures but don’t have books written about them. Many people disappear trying to “find” themselves but don’t have books written about them. I get the impression so many fall in love with this story because McCandless came from a well-to-do family and was well-educated. Otherwise, why is his story any better than the thousands of other stories out there? Why is he being made out to be a hero?

 

About 20 years ago I had a cousin who died in a tragic accident when he was 24. He was following his dreams of living in the west. He had been traveling for a few years on “adventures”. Some people say his accident was because of carelessness. He and his friends were in an area they should not have been. He walked off by himself and something went wrong. No one knows exactly what happened. Maybe he took a chance he shouldn’t have, maybe his foot just slipped. Whatever it was, it resulted in a painful death. Was my cousin a hero? No! Yes, he was living the life he wanted and he was happy with his life at that time but he wasn’t a hero. Unlike McCandless, he also kept in touch with his family and he supported himself with a job. He didn’t travel off into the wilderness unprepared. While my cousin is still special to our family, his story is not so special to deserve a book or hero status. Why? Because he was not the first nor will he be the last young adult to go searching for something in the wilderness.

 

McCandless was selfish in his actions toward his family. In my opinion, he also possibly suffered from some form of depression. He was crazy to go into the wilderness without proper training and gear. He had been careless on his canoe trip to the ocean and was lucky to have survived that “adventure”. It doesn’t take decades of maturity to realize running away from society does not solve your internal problems.

 

My other complaint about the book is the details that were left out. Apparently when the body was first found, no one found the notes and backpack. When were these found? Why were they not found when the body was removed? Why didn’t the book contain some of the pictures McCann took that last year? The book was also a bit disjointed as it jumped around in time to tell the story.

 

 

Subject: Im sorry you did not like the book...
Date Posted: 7/22/2008 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 644
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I myself loved it but I also read it and watched the movie right after. I am a very picky reader I only like to read true stories...I will read other books just don't get into them very often. It has been a couple of months since I read this one. I think he had to be a ill person to do alot of those reckless things such as not being prepared.  and to just be able to leave family and friends like he did. I am married to a man who does those kinds of things. NO advance planning.  Sometimes it drives me crazy he is so reckless. But then again I think I love him for it. Being what I can not be. He loves just free for alling it. Maybe thats why I got into he book so much. Watch the movie it tells a little more I thought....Love

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 7/26/2008 2:00 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I don't think Krakauer wanted to make McCandless out to be a hero.  It's just a story of a kid who did something different, which turned out to be foolish.  I think McCandless did what a number of people have dreamed of doing - dropping out of society and living off the land.  For him, it had a tragic end.  It was shocking to many because the kid seemingly had everything - an education, money, and a bright future.  I enjoyed the story a lot, and it affected me, mainly because I identified with him in many ways.

 

Date Posted: 7/26/2008 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2008
Posts: 664
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But a lot of people drop out of society and successfully life off the land -- especially in Alaska. If you do any web searching for McCandless you will see many young people hailing him has a hero.

 

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 2,819
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There are a ton of memoirs that are not really that unique - alcoholism, crappy parents, insane careers, etc.  I don't mind that the story gets told over and over again; I just want to relate to the characters and understand their actions as best possible.  Isn't that why we read memoirs to begin with?

Subject: I agree
Date Posted: 7/29/2008 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 644
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I read alot of childhood memoirs and they all seam to have similar accounts its like your just reading through another persons name. I still enjoy almost everyone of them because I can relate in some way....Love

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 7/30/2008 3:22 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Yep, me too.  I was thinking about why I love memoirs so much the other day.  For me, it's a study in humaness, on a very personal level.  It's experiencing that person's journey, if only for one day.  Sometimes it's living vicariously through their experience.  It's learning the lessons they learned through their story, so that hopefully I won't have to learn them myself - or at least understaning that there is a lesson to be learned.  It's feeling the love and pleasure they feel, or perhaps sharing in their grief or humility in order to feel more human.  So many reasons come to mind; it's hard for me to explain it to anyone who doesn't read memoirs.

And for me, it's so much better than fiction, because these are real people's stories - and that, to me, makes the time spent reading them worthwhile.

 



Last Edited on: 7/30/08 3:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/30/2008 8:10 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2007
Posts: 3,129
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   L wrote:     And for me, it's so much better than fiction, because these are real people's stories - and that, to me, makes the time spent reading them worthwhile.

I'm a latecomer to the memoir genre but totally agree with you, L.   Even if it seems to me that there is a bit of license taken in the memory department  (thinking of Janet Lee Jones book One Particular Harbor in which there was such specific recall that it was amazing, though it was a really interesting read),  it is still largely a work of truth instead of someone's imaginary journey.

I especially enjoy memoirs that are humorous as well, like the ones by  Bill Bryson and my current read, Julie and Julia.   Learning and laughing at the same time.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 7/31/2008 2:32 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I love Bill Bryson. :)

If you haven't done so check out the "Thoughts on Memoirs" thread in the Hidden Gems forum.  Lots of great recommendations there. :)

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 3:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 2,819
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L, I've been wanting to check out Bill Bryson for some time now, and haven't yet dipped my toes in.  What book of his is best to start with?

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 8/6/2008 2:59 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Suzanne, I don't think it really matters.  I started with "A Walk in the Woods" which was his first book.

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 335
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Why was the book written?  Because someone suspected that it would sell.  Readers today like to hear other people's real life stories.  Memoir is a huge genre that doesn't seem to be slowing.  Years ago, only the very famous wrote memoirs but now anyone who has had an addiction, been abused, been diagnosed with mental illness, or has gone on an unusual trip has a book to sell.

 

Your cousin's story is tragic.  I'm sorry about his unhappy ending.

Regarding "hero" status, I think we've been doling out the word hero unscrupulously.  To me, a hero is someone who puts him/herself on the line for someone else.  Like a guy who jumps on the subway tracks to rescue a fallen child.  Now the word hero often denotes someone who has survived something life-threateningly scary, like an avalanche or a terrorist attack. 

Date Posted: 8/24/2008 5:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 364
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I liked the book and I never viewed him as any type of hero.  Did I admire him for living out his dream?  Yes and maybe that's why some viewed him as a hero.  Did I think he made stupid decisions?  Yes.  Why was the book written?  I think the thing that got the book rolling was the fact that the older gentlemen whom McCandless spent time with contacted Krakauer after reading his magazine article.  He was the link that was able to bridge Chris McCandless to Alex Supertramp for Krakauer. 

I related to McCandless because we were the same age.  The person I felt for the most was McCandless's sister.  When I saw the movie (I saw it before I read the book), it absolutely tore my heart out.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 8/28/2008 3:24 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Connie, I cried for his Mom, though I was closer to his age.  I cannot imagine not knowing where he was nor the outcome.