Into The Wild Review Book

Taking Risk to Its 'Logical' Extreme

Date: January 4, 1996, Late Edition - Final Byline: By CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT Lead:

INTO THE WILD By Jon Krakauer Illustrated.

You watching: Into the wild review book

207 pperiods. Villard Books. $22.

Readers might at initially have some trouble sympathizing through Christopher Johnkid McCandmuch less, the young male whose mysterious death in the Alaska wilderness Jon Krakauer explores so movingly in his brand-new book, ''Into the Wild.''


As Mr. McCandless's story unfolds in these peras, he seems to have been lacking in both adequate offers and correct know-exactly how as soon as he waved goodbye to a trucker that had provided him a lift and also tramped off right into the bush on April 28, 1992. What's even more, the idealism that motivated this fatal romantic adventure shows up both flawed and also badly articulated, amounting as it does to phrases favor ''plastic people'' and also the must ''revolutionize your life and relocate right into an totally brand-new realm of experience,'' and also cliched affirmations that authors like Tolstoy, Thoreau and also Jack London were leading him on.

What's especially hard to take is Mr. McCandless's refusal to tell his devoted family members his whereabouts after he graduated through honors from Emory University in 1990 and collection off on his cockeyed hegira. Mr. Krakauer does not also sell speculation about some heroic psychic drama his topic might have been unconsciously acting out.

In brief, at leastern at the beginning of ''Into the Wild,'' you share the outraged reactions of so many who check out the article by Mr. Krakauer in Outside magazine from which this book developed. As one angry Alaskan put it in a letter to the author: ''While I feel for his parents, I have actually no sympathy for him. Such willful ignorance . . . amounts to disrespect for the land, and also paradoxically demonstprices the exact same sort of arrogance that brought about the Exxon Valdez spill -- simply an additional case of underall set, overconfident men bumbling roughly out tright here and screwing up because they lacked the requiwebsite humility. It's all a matter of level.''

Yet if Mr. Krakauer too conveniently exposes his subject's shortcomings, he also does a masterly task of keeping the reader's condemcountry at bay. While conceding his subject's many kind of flaws, he keeps hinting that something was special about this situation. He reveals through the eyes of many type of who met Mr. McCandmuch less during his trip how especially intelligent, unexplained and also simply ordinary likable this young guy was.

He describes Mr. McCandless's many kind of forerunners who were driven to climb hills also high, plumb wastelands as well deep or brave elements too unforoffering. He introduces each of his 18 chapters and also his epilogue through quotations from the literature of the wilderness that regularly articulate acutely what Mr. McCandmuch less have to have been feeling.

What is it that ultimately pushes you off the fence? On which side of it do you fall? Yet an additional ability that Mr.

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Krakauer displays in his rebuilding and construction of Mr. McCandless's life and also death is that of artcompletely withholding the pieces of his puzzle till the last one falls right into area in the final pages. So one hates to provide any type of of the mystery away.

But absolutely among the a lot of moving chapters in the book are the 2 in which the author discloses why he determined through his subject so strongly. Here Mr. Krakauer reveals how he as well was when the rebellious kid of a loving however overbearing father and also how he as well acted out his rebellion by throwing himself into the arms of nature.

More exactly, he made a decision to plunge himself into the Alaskan wilderness and climb a mountain, the Devil's Thumb, by a course that had never before been taken prior to. What complies with is a terrifying account of the author's own desperate undertaking, complete of passperiods that rival the finest in mountaineering literature. ''A tranceprefer state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream,'' he writes. ''Hours slide by prefer minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day presence -- the lapses of conscientific research, the unpassist bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable priboy of your dreams -- all of it is temporarily forobtained, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of objective and also by the seriousness of the task at hand also.''

Unchoose Mr. McCandmuch less, the writer survived his mad adventure, although in his watch he probably didn't deserve to. From his endure he concludes: ''At that stage of my youth, death remained as abstract a principle as non-Euclidian geometry or marriage. I didn't yet experience its devastating finality or the havoc it can wreak on those who'd entrusted the deceased through their hearts.''

Additionally, ''engaging in riskies habits is a rite of passage in our society no less than in the majority of others,'' Mr. Krakauer writes. ''It deserve to be said that youthful derring-carry out is in truth evolutionarily adaptive, a behavior encoded in our genes. McCandmuch less, in his fashion, just took risk-taking to its logical excessive.''

Mr. Krakauer himself outgrew his must take dangerous risks, and also Mr. McCandless reportedly was beginning to execute the exact same. Without offering ameans as well much of the story, one deserve to reveal that eventually he wanted to come out of the wild and work out dvery own. But it was too late. In Mr. Krakauer's eloquent managing, this is not merely sad. Since the story involves overbearing pride, a reversal of fortune and also a final moment of acknowledgment, it has elements of timeless tragedy. By the finish, Mr. Krakauer has actually taken the tale of a kook who entered the woods, and made of it a heart-rending drama of human yearning.


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