What does it take for a well-off young man to donate all his money and wander into the Alaskan wilderness (north of Mt. McKinley) with minimal equipment prepared? August of 1992 his body was found, four months later. After the author wrote an article on him, he chose to continue investigating what had happened and who Christopher McCandless was. It leads to this book about the events leading up to the event, how McCandless took the name Alexander Supertramp and it wasn’t his first trip alone. He had gone to Mexico and back in a kayak and wandered the US for years, meeting people who mostly got a good impression of him. It’s strange how he affected certain people, even if it’s looked at with the lense of his death becoming a nation-wide story. Alexander himself wrote about his months in the wilderness and took picture of the place, he underlined thoughtful philosophical quotes in books like anyone. But not everyone meets such an unfortunate end all alone, after having eaten something toxic or simply starving to death.
“I read somewhere… how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong… to measure yourself at least once.”
I didn’t get as much out of this book as I was looking for. Mostly because it’s not Alexander/Christophers story. Obviously, since he’s ufortunately dead. His notes was the most interesting part of this book, along with the interviews of the people who met him. The author adds other similiar stories, some more interesting than others, as well as own experiences. It comes in an odd place that makes it seem more like filler than if it had been towards the end, as an extra information. There’s not enough material to justify the length of the book, which makes the middle part more boring than necessary. Other than that, the authors writing was good. There’s no romanticizing the events that occurred, but at the same time there’s given reasons for why people choose to live solitary, off the grid that way or want to be in the wilderness.
who was this person?
Personally I don’t agree with the voices claiming Christopher to have a death-wish, had overly romaticized the trip or that he’s a hero for doing something so daring and breaking out of the average life. There certainly seems to be elements of all three, he was too unprepared in the end, he seemed to be escaping and he seemed to be spontaneous. He’d already travelled a lot and been on the road, so he wasn’t straight out from normalcy and college. The last person who saw Christopher alive warned him about the dangers as he noticed he didn’t have much gear, even gave him some, but figured he wouldn’t stay out there that long. This is the part of the story where I question how in his right mind Christopher was, and what his plans were originally. But even with this there wasn’t one personality trait or fault that automatically lead to his death. He got unlucky, in the end. I think that’s the main idea I’ve gotten from this book that I wouldn’t have from articles that claim he was one thing or another. People have done stupid shit and survived, even in the wilderness of Alaska, but McCandless got unlucky.
I wonder if Christopher would’ve liked the book himself. Maybe not. I wanted to know what lead to him wanting to spend time alone out there, as well as what went wrong, and could’ve liked a more direct layout of the theories when it became obvious there were no final answer. I would recommend the book if you’re very interested, if not I think articles online or even the wiki page would be a great place to start. I haven’t yet seen the movie “into the wild”, but I’ll keep you updated when I do. I’m expecting that to give a much more “McCandless as a daring hero” vibe than this book, but maybe not.