Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Senseless read

If the plain senselessness of the final months and death of Christopher Johnson's life as chronicled by Jon Krakauer in Into The Wild is the point, the book is well done.

Professional reviewers are quoted on the book's cover proclaiming that the tale is " . . . compelling, engrossing, riveting, sensational . . . " I disagree.

Christopher Johnson was born into privilege and private education. While in college, he learned that his father had an affair and fathered a child with a woman other than his mother. Apparently, Christopher decided that he had no use for his father and anything from his world. It didn't matter that his mother and sister, whom he cared for, lived in the same world. Christopher dropped out of sight and wandered the West, finally dying of starvation in Alaska.

Krakauer sees much of himself in Christopher and and he acknowledges that but for luck, he himself may have perished on reckless adventures. It is therapy writing. Christopher's travels and death are not romantic, heroic or worthy of admiration.

Lost about 70 pages from the end of the book is the real truth:

" . . . weeping as only a mother who has outlived a child can weep, betraying a sense of loss so huge and irreparable that the mind balks at taking its measure. Such bereavement, witnessed at close range, makes even the most eloquent apologia for high-risk activities ring fatuous and hollow."

I recommend leaving the book on the shelf. Although the story is well told, it is a story best forgotten.

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