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NOV
26

Cheryl Strayed in the Cleve

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In all the craziness of last week’s travels, I wasn’t able to mention that Cheryl Strayed was in town. Author of Wild, which I quite enjoyed. Sometimes it’s puzzling to think of an author speaking, because what exactly do they speak about? Their book? Everyone in attendance has read it. Their life? Everyone in attendance knows all about it because we’ve read the book.

Well Cheryl Strayed gave what I can only describe as the perfect remarks. She went into some background and additional detail on both her life and the book, and I could have listened for hours. Her thoughts on writing, particularly on writing memoirs, I found helpful and true, and it’s comforting to know she struggles with some of the same writerly things I do. Like balancing honesty with the part of you that doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Loved hearing about the person who had issue with how they were portrayed in Wild. Loved hearing how she responded, how it made her feel. Loved being in a theater full of people there to support her. Truly, it is the dream.

AUG
28

Wild

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I resisted reading this book. And I tried not to like it. I'm not sure why, I guess because I don't care about hiking. And once I started reading, I was somewhat less than sympathetic to the author's I've-made-a-mess-of-my-life plight. Because she HAD made a mess of her life. True that the redemptive theme of the book never really grabbed me, but the hiking, surprisingly, did.

Call me crazy, but the scene where she tries to load her backpack only AFTER she's flown to the west coast and is minutes away from actually beginning her journey was hilarious. Who wouldn't make sure everything fit beforehand?? And the frequent mention by other (male) hikers about her pack being much heavier than theirs just added to the hilarity. The hiking piece of the story...the piece about a girl who knows nothing about hiking taking on one of the most ambitious hikes possible (and solo!) was fascinating, that's just a fact. And I thought the author's use of flashbacks was good, too. (Although when you get to the one about the horse, skip over it if you are sensitive to sad animal stories.)

And as much as I tried not to let it, the end moved me. Not because the author had made up for her previous behavior, but she ends the story with a lovely sentiment about how even though it's impossible to know how things will turn out when we make a certain decision, it IS possible for them to work out even if we are at rock bottom; even when we haven't got a plan, a clue, or a dollar to our name. An inspiring message, no matter the source. Well done, Queen of the PCT.

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