Chris McCandless: The Ultimate "Yes…but No!" Story

A few days ago, I noticed that Carine McCandless — sister of Chris from the book and film, Into the Wild — has written a memoir, The Wild Truth. She certainly has a story to tell, and oh how my heart goes out to her all these years later. I hope I get to read the book.  From a couple reviews, it looks as if Carine looks back to her family system for some of the roots from which Chris was trying to free himself. It’s possible that Chris’s extreme isolation was just one more tragically-male response to his own trauma. In other words, he was running away from rather than toward something. This only adds to the sadness of the story, even if it is no real surprise.

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Finding an Angle of Repose

“I may not know who I am, but I know where I’m from.” ~Wallace Stegner

“Wisdom…is knowing what you have to accept.” ~Lyman Ward in Angle of Repose

Reading, writing, and living take us on all sorts of enjoyable and not-so-enjoyable tangents. As un undergraduate student at Anderson University, I took an interest in the writing, speaking, and lifestyle of Shane Claiborne, who started The Simple Way, which is an inner-city communal living organization in the tradition of New Monasticism. In interacting with him on a visit, he kept mentioning this guy named Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer and writer. So I started reading Berry and could not get enough of him. The vision he offers of living in the contemporary world is maybe still the best I have found. But his literary mentor, a former professor at Stanford, was a guy named Wallace Stegner. I figured I ought to read him, too, which is how I came across Angle of Repose,  a Western novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. (The New York Times showed its protest against the Pulitzer decision by hardly mentioning the novel or its author in their own pages.)

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