Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wild - Cheryl Strayed

I borrowed this one from a friend of mine at work who is an avid hiker/camper/outdoorswoman...I, on the other hand, am none of these things, but still have fantasties of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail someday and "finding" myself.  I really enjoyed Bill Bryson's account of his travels along the Appalachian Trail, and thought I'd check this one out - a memoir about a woman following the death of her mother and a divorce - who takes to the trail with no real expectations or preparation.  She hikes by herself - and sounds grossly out of shape - having just exited a rebound relationship fed by a newfound heroin addiction.  Needless to say, Ms. Strayed doesn't sound like the brightest bulb and from the outset I was sure that she was going to abandon her quest after hiking just a couple days (of course then maybe she wouldn't have written a book about it).  I have a love/hate relationship with memoirs - I love to act as a voyeur into other people's lives and experiences, and then I find myself annoyed that these people think I care about their inner musings and opinions.  It's really not fair of me as a reader, but I'm still overly critical.  I think the author struck a good balance in this book - I mean how much can you write about hiking day after day with an overweight pack and blistering feet?  And how much can you write about all you learn about yourself during a journey in which you go days, if not weeks, without talking to another human being?  I did find myself filled with anxiety about the author traveling alone, and with every male encouter, I worried for her safety.  She didn't seem to have the same cares, hitchhiking with reckless abandon.  But, as with the overpacking, the self-travel seemed a bit naive.  All in all, this book made me want to take a few more day hikes - and impressed with those who take on and accomplish more -  but it mostly made me appreciate coming home every night to a warm shower, warm food, and a warm bed.

No comments: