by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild is the true story of Christopher McCandless. I picked this book up on a whim while travelling to my beloved Southampton town.
I finished it and then promptly re-read it. Less a book and more a retelling of a man who is desperate to evade his past this was a stunner.
Christopher McCandless was born in El Segundo California. His father was a consultant for NASA while his mother worked as a secretary. He had a younger sister as well as several half siblings. Life was not easy at the McCandless home as there is evidence of verbal abuse against Christopher and his younger sister. There is evidence to suggest that both Christopher’s parents also verbally abused each other.
Though the actual circumstances of Christopher adopting an increasingly nomadic lifestyle are never revealed; there was some speculation that both the abuse he suffered and his reading of Jack London’s books had some part to play.
Christopher began his travels very soon after graduation from University. He hitchhiked across most of the United States, finally landing in Alaska. A backpacker’s dream. Provided, of course, that you know what you’re doing, you’re prepared for the elements, and you have more than a beginner’s knowledge of how to survive the brutal cold, lack of food, wild animals, and lack of shelter.
Christopher was not in any way prepared for the unforgiving wilderness that is most of Alaska. Though he successfully (and illegally) shot a moose because he didn’t understand the ways of meat preservation, his rations spoiled very quickly and he was reduced to hunting for berries for sustenance.
There is no exact date for Christopher’s death. And no exact cause though there are many theories, ranging from mould on plants, to poisoning from wild potato plants to simply just starvation.
This isn’t an easy book to read, but it is a fantastic one to see how far one will go to erase themselves from a society they no longer wish to be part of.