annotation by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
Into the Wild claims to tell the story of Chris McCandless’ greatest adventure and tragic end in the back woods of Alaska, but often focuses on Krakauer’s connection with McCandless rather than the subject itself. A story that began as a featured article for Outside Magazine grew into a full-length book after Krakauer became infatuated by the story and its hero. He states in the Author’s Notes, “I was haunted by the boy’s starvation and by vague unsettling parallels between events in his life and those in my own.”
As I read this book I began to wonder, when is the author allowed to be part of the story? It is no doubt that this book was written because of Krakauer’s own self-proclaimed connections to Chris McCandless, but don’t we all write on subjects we feel deep connections to? When are we allowed as writers to cross that line from the narrator to the story? Is there a moment? And how can we know when that moment has arrived?
A year after Chris McCandless’s death, Krakauer visits the site where it occurred. Once inside the bus where Chris lived out his grandest adventure and met his untimely death, Krakauer studies the objects left behind: toenail clippers, a makeshift belt around torn jeans, and the boots that appear to be waiting for their owner’s return. Sitting in the bus amongst the objects that made up the last four months of McCandless’ life Krakauer states, “I feel uncomfortable, as if I were intruding, a voyeur who has slipped into McCandless’s bedroom while he is momentarily away.” Continue reading