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TRESPASSING ACROSS AMERICA

ONE MAN'S EPIC, NEVER-DONE-BEFORE (AND SORT OF ILLEGAL) HIKE ACROSS THE HEARTLAND

An interesting and promising premise turns ponderous and occasionally preachy as the author narrates his cross-country trek.

One man’s journey hiking the then-proposed path of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, from the Alberta tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

After a stint as a dishwasher at Deadhorse Camp, a makeshift community of oil workers near the Arctic Circle in northern Alaska, Ilgunas (Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom, 2013) realized that he was indirectly participating in the culture of oil dependence, and the subsequent industrial squalor he witnessed around him at camp, that he actively fought against. After a fateful if not disastrous hike to nearby Prudhoe Bay reinvigorated the author’s spirit for adventure and wanderlust, he quickly set about planning a symbolic trek along the proposed path of the contentious and, at the time, still-tentative Keystone XL oil pipeline. In 2012, he began in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and continued southward for 1,700 miles through the plains of America to the Gulf coast of Texas. Along the way, the author, always following his free-wheeling philosophy (he has hitchhiked more than 10,000 miles across North America and canoed more than 1,000 in Canada), risked being shot by landowners for trespassing, battled niggling injuries and fatigue, and endured the harsh weather while sleeping outside. While rhapsodizing about the natural beauty of the environment, Ilgunas also injects his narrative with statistics, facts, and anecdotes about the global warming crisis (he quotes Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and others). Ending his journey at a refinery on the Gulf coast in Port Arthur, Texas, the symbolism of the author’s journey does not add up to the gravitas that he intended. While the narrative is heartfelt and seemingly genuine, Ilgunas’ multistate hike reads like an overextended think piece.

An interesting and promising premise turns ponderous and occasionally preachy as the author narrates his cross-country trek.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17548-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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