"Into the Wild" is soon to be released in movie theaters across the country and is already receiving rave reviews, not only for Sean Penn's role as the film's director, but also for its engrossing storyline. Into the Wild, the nonfiction book, began with an article by moutaineer Jon Krakauer in "Outside" magazine. When a young man turned up dead in a school bus in the wilds of Alaska, north of Mt. McKinley, Krakauer began to explore the fascinating true tale of Christopher McCandless.
McCandless, son of a well-to-do family from the Washington, DC, area had just graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. His family thought that he had plans to continue on to law school, but McCandless had another vision. After graduating, he donated $25,000 (intended for law school) to OXFAM and began on a journey that would take him across the country, north to Alaska, and ultimately, to his own untimely death.
Not only did Chris McCandless give up all his worldy possessions, he abandoned a middle class mindset and vision of life for himself. Instead, he followed the ideas and ideals he found in the books of Thoreau and Tolstoy (among other authors) and lived by his own wits. He spent considerable time in the desert of the Southwest, but his vision was always to adopt the life of the wild, as envisioned in books of Jack London.
Along the way, McCandless--who renamed himself Alex McCandless or even Alexander Supertramp once he arrived in Alaska--met a variety of individuals, all of whom remember him as a thoughtful, hard working, intelligent young man who sought to follow his own vision of the way life should be. He was not a loner, although he spent considerable time on his two year journey by himself, living off the land. He also cut off all ties to his family, even eventually with his closest sibling, a sister. He did not want anyone or anything to deter him from his vision, from finding his "truth."
Author Jon Krakauer does an amazing job with this tale, interweaving interviews with those who knew McCandless and helped him along the way. He also compares the desire of McCandless as a young man on an unusual path to his own youthful desires to scale dangerous mountains alone. Into the Wild is not the type of story going from point A to point Z in a straight line, but it will engage you even as it sidetracks into other stories, other visions, other experiences of dreamers like McCandless.
Don't miss Krakauer's book! The insight and thoughtful approach he has taken in this book toward his sometimes unknowable subject will provide a wonderful background to the movie.
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