A Good Read – Wild – Cheryl Strayed

imagesFUVZI6H4Wild – A journey from lost to found – Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed sets out to walk the Pacific Coast Trail after falling of the rails, following the death of her mother. The long walk out as a metaphor for the long walk in is a well covered theme and one I know well, but these books can be so hit and miss. They can be melodramatic or shoe gazing in the extreme or, alternately, the author can go all coy on us and use lots of lovely metaphors about the countryside without telling us one single true and honest thing about themselves.

Wild manages to admirably avoid either of these extremes. It is that thing we all love, a great bit of armchair travel. Not many of us really wish to put out body through the physical hardships that Cheryl endured, watch our toenails blacken and become detached, drink dubious water sauces and live on dehydrated food. Not many women are brave enough to take off alone into the wilderness with scarcely a penny to their name but we don’t have to, Chery did and we can, from the cosiness of our homes, walk with her.

This book is a good story, well told. It isn’t poetic nature writing or profound insight but I found it a refreshing change because of this. Unlike so many British writers who laden their books with endless clever words that only a small percentage of the population understand, or quote and re-quote  the same collection of ‘acceptable’ writers, or sit in their ‘aren’t we all so marvellous club,’ slapping each other on the back and thanking each other profusely in the ‘acknowledgement’ section, then Cheryl just gets on with the business of telling her story without fanfare. She is a normal, flawed, working class women who has had some major hiccups in her life and found a way to deal with them.

If only British publishers would publish more people like this and stop churning out the same old stories from writers who sometimes appear to have nothing to offer other than the fact they are the ‘right sort.’

2 thoughts on “A Good Read – Wild – Cheryl Strayed

  1. Yes, I agree this is a “Good Read”. Cheryl Strayed‘s writing style in ‘Wild’ is clear, truthful and ’unvarnished’ in its account of her personal experiences. Consequently, with the book’s language she creates power & beauty.

    Like the walk, one feels her book has no set agenda. Hence one doesn’t know what’s likely to happen next. It’s clear that her intentions were not “to wipe the slate clean” but more to gain an acceptance and understanding of the past events that had bought her to the point of being on the PCT.
    This may be armchair reading for many, but her expression of the ‘sense of aloneness’ merits further consideration. After all… going eight days without seeing a single human being or having any human contact whatsoever seems unthinkable in today’s world, awash with mobile communication technology…

    • Yes I agree, she was very brave to spend so much time alone in the wilderness and it is an experience which would teach us all something. Also enduring the amount of physical discomfort that she did takes a very tough sort of person, no wonder the two soldiers she encountered were so impressed by her.

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