In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter…
I first read that summary many years back after reading Jon Krakauer’s The Perfect Storm. It was a great read and in the last few pages were advertisements of Krakauer’s other books. Into the Wild caught my eye. It had me hooked and intrigued. For years I looked for a copy but could not find one. I even contemplated buying one in Amazon but I deemed it too expensive. So I waited.
Then I heard that the book was being adapted into a movie by Sean Penn. I was ecstatic. I knew it won’t be shown in local theatres. So I did what majority of Filipinos do. Buy a pirated copy. I wasn’t disappointed by the movie. It was long and featured great performances especially from Emile Hirsch and that girl Bella from Twilight. The soundtrack, featuring all songs written and sung by Eddie Vedder, is also a great buy.
I finally got myself a copy, for $20, when an officemate vacationed in the US. Expensive for a 207-page softbound book. But it was worth every cent. The book is (again) one of the best I’ve read. The book does not only feature Chris’ sojourn but also a glimpse of his character through his family, sibling, people he met on the streets, and Krakauer himself. We learn that Chris is an exemplary student and athlete, who loved his sister to bits, a shrewd businessman, an artist, plays the piano, and sings well.
I’ve always been drawn to characters who don’t give a fuck about what society dictate, do what they damn please, and eventually die in the process. Alexander Supertramp, a name Chris used when he embarked in his travels across North America, is one of them. He was courage (or to some a form of youthful naïveté) personified. I don’t think I see myself in him but I admired and longed to have his braveness – to fully live the life he wanted to live.
So go get yourself a copy of the book. If you’re not into that, watch the 3-hour-long film. And buy the soundtrack!