Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Into the Wild by Krakauer


A couple days ago I was at Pike's Market in downtown Seattle (the famous place where dude's throw salmon around) and I found a used book store. I picked up Jon Krakauer's adventure novel "Into the Wild" and read the entire book today. Just like "Into thin Air", I couldn't put this book down. I love the way Krakauer writes.

People have recommended this book to me many times over the past 10 years, but very honestly, I have little time for "pleasure" reading, which stinks. After I finish this degree I'm working on, I plan to read lots of books I have been putting off.

The book is Krakauer's depiction of the story of Chris McCandless. The description on the book says it perfectly- In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet and invented a new name for himself. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. The picture above was taken by McCandless at the beginning of his Alaska journey. He took several rolls of film with many self-portraits. He grows more and more gaunt with each haunting picture. Here's one of the last ones-


The book covers more than his final four months however. It covers a period of over two years where this young man graduates from college then becomes a drifter/adventurer finally dying of starvation in Alaska. Krakauer digs in to the psyche of McCandless, which proves to be one of the more interesting aspects of the book. There is no indication that McCandless was a Christian, so reading about such people prompts me to think of how his fate might have been different if he knew Christ. Did he come to know Christ in his last days as his strength left him? He certainly knew of Christianity and it's claims, he was very well read and spent time in Christian homeless shelters over the two years he wandered. There's no way for me to tell.

In telling McCandless' story, Krakauer causes the reader to think of many issues- social structure and acceptance, parent-child relationships, the "call of the wild", self-worship, self-reliance, over confidence, adventure, wealth, poverty, self discovery, the necessity of human relationships, etc.

For me, a wanna-be adventurist, Into the Wild caused me to see how pointless and futile life is apart from God's grace and guidance.

A motion picture was produced in 2007 based on Krakauer's novel, I plan on renting it soon despite Sean Penn being the producer.

8 comments:

R W S said...

I remember reading about this story and had a very overwhelming sense of sadness come over me. For some I'm sure they would just say he was doing his thing and it was his choice. But being created in the image of God , having been knitted together in our mothers womb , life is a precious gift.
This was a wasted life and a sad one to me . When man is left to his own devices , self worship and this senseless searching apart from God ,will only lead to spiritual death .

Woody Woodward said...

Hate to burst your bubble on this movie idea, BUT… I agree, it did sound interesting so I punched it up on my Net Flex browser. When I saw that is was directed by America hater, Sean Penn that’s all I needed to say “no thanks!” I will never associate myself with anything that this disgusting individual touches. Wished that maybe Penn could have played the actual part.

William said...

The sense I got when I read both the book and saw the movie was the total self-absorbtion of Chris, covered by a thin veneer of "looking for meaning." His search for meaning and "finding himself" caused a great deal of grief to those who truly loved him. I used to see this a lot in the Unity movement, that being people looking to find themselves without regard to their loved ones. Boundaries are fine I guess but I don't like watching them be used as an excuse to hurt those that love you. It further reiterates to me that sin is never personal. It creates waves that affect others. A lot of people see Chris as an adventurer and a morally superior person (i.e. free from materialism). I saw him as a self-absorbed, rich kid that left a path of pain for all behind him to wade through (said with 4 fingers pointing back at me).

Perry said...

What? There are no used-book stores in the Kansas City area? You have to go to Seattle to get a used book? I suppose it'll be another seven years and another sabbatical before you pick-up another used book?

Reepicheep said...

I use Amazon for all my books, used and new- and I buy LOTS of them. I happened to be at a boring market with my wife...there I found the book store.

Perry said...

I hope you know I was kidding. At least you weren't on the hunt for the location of the first $tarbuck$ store in the nation.

HereBeDragons said...

I quite enjoyed this book, except for the author's constant references to his own life, which I thought didn't quite fit in with the tone of the rest of the book.

I also recommend the film. It was an enjoyable watch. Though I was left a bit cold by the ending, for some of the same reasons outlined in your blog here.

Reepicheep said...

HBD,
I agree. Krakauer's two chapter about his own "adventure" experience was a bit much. He was trying to show that McCandless should not be viewed as suicidal by illustrating the need some people have to do crazy adventure stuff, even possibly to the point of death. His climbing of the Thumb Mountain thing in Alaska was supposed to be a comparison with McCandless to prove a point.

He could have reduced those two chapters into a few pages and made the same point.