book blog

First of all, I had no idea the McCandless parents were such nightmarish characters. Did you? Jon Krakauer’s introduction was right on point for me:

Before Carine shared [her brother’s] letters with me, she asked me not to include anything from them in my book. I promised to abide by her wishes. It’s not uncommon for sources to ask journalists to treat certain pieces of information as confidential or “off the record,” and I’d agreed to such requests on several previous occasions. In this instance, my willingness to do so was bolstered by the fact that I shared Carine’s desire to avoid causing undue pain to Walt, Billie, and Carine’s siblings from Walt’s first marriage. I though, moreover, that I could convey what I’d learned from the letters obliquely, between the lines, without violating Carine’s trust. I was confident I could provide enough indirect clues for readers to understand that, to no small degree, Chris’s seemingly inexplicable behavior during the final years of his life was in fact explained by the volatile dynamics of the McCandless family while he was growing up. Many readers did understand this as it turned out. But many did not.

Yeah, it’s safe to say I was in the “did not” category. I read Into the Wild and watched the film somewhere around five years ago. Like a lot of people, I was struck by Chris McCandless’s intense, charming personality. But I wasn’t won over. To me, he came off as a bit spoiled, a young man who gave away his college fund and denounced his family for no clear reason. Really, whatever his reasons, they were none of my business. But my opinion of him was colored by the omission of those reasons. I did not read between the lines. Instead, I wondered what I was supposed to be reading between the lines.

And again, like many, I was taken with Chris McCandless’s story. Why did he die? What made him leave his family and friends and take solace in the company of strangers and vagabonds?

I was thrilled to see The Wild Truth on bookshelves and immediately grabbed the audio book from my library to listen to while driving my son to and from school.

My initial reaction: Oh god, make it stop.

I hate to say it. Carine McCandless is an intelligent woman, a capable writer, and, um, articulate. My problem is the way she articulates…I just felt that she should not have chosen to read her own audio book. To be fair, I’m coming from Juliet Stevenson’s reading of The Paying Guests. Talk about an engrossing reader. I just found McCandless’s reading style to be a complete distraction.

Other than the reading, I found the book to be interesting at times, and quite a bit bland at others. McCandless is a bit plodding in her descriptions and often trite. Though, in one of the last chapters there’s a weird and (comparatively) graphic analogy comparing emotional wounds to stab wounds. *shrug* Huh.

Some authors are the exception to the audio book rule. I especially enjoy Wally Lamb as a reader. I’ve heard Toni Morrison reads all of her own books, which is probably awesome. But I’m reading Beloved in hardback form right now and don’t want to go get the audio from the libes.

Which authors would you add to the list?

xoxo, Shannon

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