Monday, March 9, 2009

Book Review - Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

A different bird, that Alex Supertramp

Into the Wild is a true account of Christopher McCandless’s foolhardy pilgrimage to his death in the wilderness of Alaska. Although he was clearly suffering from hubris, this passionate idealist was on a mission to understand himself and his connection to nature, in his solo journey under the alias Alex Supertramp.

There is no shortage of irony in this tragedy, as this young man who once had a dream of putting an end to world hunger, and even donated all of his savings to this cause, died of starvation. It should also be noted that for McCandless, his trip into the wild was an exercise in freedom, a sort of protest of society in a world full of rules and boundaries, only to come to his end “... trapped in the wild.”

There are many critics who accuse him of willful ignorance and arrogance in underestimating the fierceness of the Alaskan bush, and his ability to handle it with his limited experience. Although partly true, how many of us could say that we would survive even half of the experiences that he courageously conquered, all in the interest of pursuing his dreams?

In the end, along with countless others that he encountered in his travels, I am inspired by his story, and I will take with me his final realization after months of solitude, that "Happiness isn’t real unless it’s shared."

2.5/5 Snakes

2 comments:

  1. Someone just gave me this book a few days ago. I saw the movie last year and I have a weird relationship with it. Two completely unrelated people-- one who knew me from my childhood and one that knew me only for a few months-- both recommended it to me saying how Alex reminded them of me. Needless to say I was intrigued and had to see it then. I was stunned. How could a 32 year old family man who hasn't gone camping in about 15 years have any similarities with Alex Supertramp? I'm still trying to figure it out, but hopefully the book will shed some light on it. I didn't even like him! Then, as my wife pointed out, sometimes people can be "too much alike." I don't see it.

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  2. It is true that sometimes when we are too similar to another person, we end up seeing things in them what we don't like about ourselves and disliking them accordingly. But you're right, it is hard to imagine someone without a passion for the wilderness being compared to the persona of Alex Supertramp.

    However, your friends may see in you a desire to oppose conventional wisdom? Someone of independent thought and manner, possibly? I'm only just getting to know you, so I couldn't say.

    I think you'll find an appreciation for him and his philosophies once you read the book, though. The written word is so much more flattering and personal, and as such you may get a deeper understanding of what he stood for.

    I'd love to know what you think, if you do read it.

    Happy Reading!

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