Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Long distance booking.

When I drove my mother home to North Carolina Sunday, we listened to Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, an absorbing and wrenching "read by ear" about a hapless kid who did a Jack London and didn't live to tell the tale.

Chris McCandless took off after graduating from Emory University with honors. He gave away and burned inheritance and cash, and cut bonds completely with his parents and siblings. For more than two years, he lived off the land as a modern day explorer, stopping briefly here and there without staying long enough to forge any real emotional bonds. He was fearless and self-indulgent, brilliant and disconnected, hard working and quick to move on, careful and careless.
Fascinating story, zigging around McCandless' odyssey with rich details gathered by a biographer who connected the tenuous dots of McCandless' life on the road. He wraps up McCandless' story in the epilogue, as the boy's parents fly by helicopter to see where he starved to death in the Denali wilderness. Abandoned by their child, scorned by him for reasons he never explained to them, and absolutely flattened by his life and death, they were seeking answers that simply were not there.

The book ended as I approached Greenville, South Carolina on the return trip. I turned off the audio and drove in silence back to Atlanta.

By all accounts from people he met, as well as the self-portraits McCandless took, he was happy. He loved the life he chose. That's what a parent hopes for a child. But the price for McCandless' parents ... not knowing where their child was for more than two years, not understanding why he cut all bonds with them: too dear.

Quite compelling.  I'm very glad I listened to the book.

But I do NOT want to see the movie.

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