By Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild brings to reality the blissfully simplistic concept of running from civilization to test ourselves against a life in the wild. Chris McCandless had this dream, and Into the Wild depicts his epic embarkment on a pilgrimage of personal development.
Krakauer draws upon his own life experience to help justify McCandless motives and decision to abandon civilisation and to lead a solitary life in the wild to the reader, and does so extremely effectively, strengthened with comparisons to the likes of John Muir, and the less well known Everett Ruess.
The book is not written chronologically, with chapters about McCandless’ earlier life interspersing the narrative, usually with a link to explain a motive or decision he made later. Also throughout the text are occasional chapters or passages about Krakauer’s life, I think to enforce how similar he was to McCandless in many ways. He openly documents that this leads to a certain level of bias towards the decisions McCandless made, even when they lead to such pain for his family.
Krakauer uses a technique (also seen in Into Thin Air) of introducing each chapter with a short quotation, featuring a relevant text; this time using it to form a greater abstracted picture of McCandless mind. He includes passages from the books that McCandless carried with him into the wilds of Alaska, emphasizing their importance to him, along with stating they were by far the heaviest things within his pack. Perhaps they give a person more understanding of his mind that he could have done with his various notes.
If you’ve never read any work written by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is a great book with which to start. An easy writing style, compelling story, researched, understood, and fabulously written by a competent adventurer leaving you wanting to continue reading long after you finish the book.
Read Into the Wild? Try Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer - his account of the devastating storm on Everest whilst he and his companions attempted an ascent in 1996 that left 8 climbers dead. Review coming soon…