Two weeks ago I stood in line at an airport bookstore with a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild in hand. I borrowed a copy month earlier from the local library, but as with many books these days, I didn’t get around to reading it before I had to return it. After whittling away half an hour browsing new titles and feeling elated from the uninterrupted freedom to do so, I returned once again to Strayed’s memoir. With hours of dead travel time ahead of me beginning with a red-eye from Windsor Locks with a brief plane change/bag check in Montreal and then onto Vancouver, I cracked the book open on my first flight and was reluctant to set it down even when my eyes blurred shut for two hours. That was Wednesday.
Over the next seven days spent traveling around British Columbia, I tore through pages of Wild every chance I had. I read on jet planes, helicopters, and float planes. In chauffeured cars and vans, on a ferry, and in fancy resorts. I soaked up every word like gravy on toast, hungry for disarming comfort and brutal honesty. The irony of my surroundings set against the story of one woman’s journey to sort out her disheveled life while hiking the rugged and crass conditions of the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Washington didn’t go unrecognized. As I read, I imagined being only a few steps behind Strayed with cheap duct-taped sandals, pelvic skin patches as rough as freshly plucked chicken, and a pack weighing more than half my weight.
On my second to last flight, a red-eye from Vancouver to Toronto, I finished the book and wished immediately that I hadn’t. Strayed’s writing unnerved me. Her prose lingered and held tight. I finally collapsed on the last flight and spent the next few days catching up on sleep. Admittedly, I’m a little late to the Wild party but it was worth every idle second.
Have you read Strayed’s memoir? What did you think?
p.s. I’m now reading the author’s first novel “Torch” and have “Tiny Beautiful Things” next on my list. I’m also scheming how I can make it to one of her writing workshops …