In the wake of her mother’s death, with her family scattered, and in the ashes of a failed marriage, Cheryl Strayed made the impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild powerfully tells the story of her adventure, capturing the terrors and pleasures of a young woman forging ahead against all odds and the healing power of her trip.
‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed, a Walkabout of Reinvention – Reviewed by Dwight Garner
It’s not very manly, the topic of weeping while reading. Yet for a book critic tears are an occupational hazard. Luckily, perhaps, books don’t make me cry very often — I’m a thrice-a-year man, at best. Turning pages, I’m practically Steve McQueen.
Cheryl Strayed’s new memoir, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” however, pretty much obliterated me. I was reduced, during her book’s final third, to puddle-eyed cretinism. I like to read in coffee shops, and I began to receive concerned glances from matronly women, the kind of looks that said, “Oh, honey.” It was a humiliation.
To mention all this does Ms. Strayed a bit of a disservice, because there’s nothing cloying about “Wild.” It’s uplifting, but not in the way of many memoirs, where the uplift makes you feel that you’re committing mental suicide. This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound.