Wild (2012) by Cheryl Strayed is not a bad book about how the author suffered terrible personal loss and then ill-prepared went out and walked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It is, as many things are, neither as good as its proponents claim nor as bad as the detractors say.
It’s a bit like On The Road, Into the Wild and Postcards from The Edge rolled into one. It has a little bit of the joy of travel and hiking from On the Road, not much of the excellent writing but a lot of the ill-preparedness of Into the Wild and a bit of the writing about a young woman going on a drugs and sex binge for a few years of Postcards from The Edge.
This book will be disliked by people who think that Strayed is self indulgent and liked by those who think she is brave to write honestly about the events that hit her as a young woman. I tend toward the latter. The book will again be disliked by those who think she was reckless going on a huge hike without adequate planning and those who admire her for doing the walk. I’m split between these two.
The book disappointingly captures little of the wonder of hiking a huge trail and being a human in a small group or on your facing the grand indifference of nature but it does get a bit. There is enough of this in the book that inspires me to try and get out and hike again after years of barely being out.
Overall the book is worth reading and in reading it you can see why it got made into a film. It has sex, drugs, an attractive young woman and captures a little of the wonder of nature. It’s not a new, better, global, non-misogynist On The Road for a new generation but it is a fairly short, fairly amusing book written with considerably honesty about a remarkable trip.