I read this years ago, apparently before I started keeping my “reading notebook” online in 2000, but I had to read it again after watching the movie recently. And I’ve been listening to the soundtrack more, which I started after seeing the movie. I didn’t listen to it that much when I first bought it, but it is apparent now that Eddie Vedder did a masterful job with the music and lyrics. He’s always been one of my favorite lyricists, but I did not have a real appreciation for this album until seeing the movie and now reading the book again.
The movie did a pretty good job keeping to the book’s story line, which it should since it is based on a true story. Of course, the book has more depth than the movie, but beyond that, it also has a couple chapters devoted to Krakauer’s own harrowing experience in the wild, as he attempted to climb the ice covered Devil’s Thumb — in winter — in which Mother Nature showed him who is boss. (And I’ve been there too!, though maybe not quite as bad.) But that added depth and reflection by Krakauer, and the relevance to McCandless’s own tale, which is left out of the movie, is well worth it.
The book also made me want to read Jack London, Tolstoy (which I have already purchased Family Happiness and is my next book in queue). I tried to read War and Peace a few years ago, and just never got in to it. I had to put it down after a couple hundred pages. McCandless speaks very highly of it … “powerful and highly symbolic” and “has things that escape most people” as he puts it. And it so happens that I sat next to a guy on a plane that was reading Anna Karina, and we talked about War and Peace, and he also said I need to pick it up again.
There are several great quotes Krakauer included, some of which made it into the movie. For this blog entry, I will include quotes from Krakauer and McCandless, but longer quotes from other authors I will put in their own blog entries.
…[don’t] fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon.” — McCandless
Children can be harsh judges when it comes to their parents, disinclined to grant clemency….” — Krakauer
I used to get the trance like state of what he described below when racing sometimes, usually when paddling on the 2nd night of a 3-day race, and you become separated from your body. Krakauer was describing a long ice climb, though…
A trance-like state settles over your efforts, the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence — the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes [ !! interesting how he through this in !!] — all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.
It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it. — Krakauer
But I came to appreciate that mountains [ or whatever you are ‘pursuing’ ] make poor receptacles for dreams.
It is interesting how this theme, or variations on it, seems to keep coming up!
Circumstance has no value. It is how one relates to a situation that has value. All true meaning resides in the personal relationship to a phenomenon, what it means to you. – McCandless
Happiness is only real when shared… — McCandless.