Tag Archives: Cheryl Strayed

Does a Memoir Need to Tell a Wild Story?

After hearing about it (too much), I decided I’d read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I usually avoid books and movies that have too much hype because I don’t always like what “everybody” likes. So I assume I won’t like said book or film and try to ignore. Sometimes I’m wrong about the work. Sometimes I’m not.

In the case of Strayed’s memoir, I thought its popularity meant that the book would be insipid. Judgmental on my part, yes. I also assumed it would be too “outdoorsy” for my taste.

What I found was a well-written story which held my interest throughout. Strayed’s protagonist is a grief-stricken addict who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. Once I started the book I didn’t want to stop. Perhaps more than any other memoir, I was entertained by the cinematic story.

Although the book seems to be very carefully crafted, the premise itself is rather wild. An out-of-control young addict embarks on a dangerous journey by herself, rather than a trip to rehab. The implausibility of this path to recovery is echoed by the central tangible symbol of boots which do not fit the hiker. They do damage to her feet and create multi-level meaning, but leave this reader thinking, there is no way she could survive on that trail without broken-in boots that fit well.

What I learned from this book is that I can exaggerate elements of my life to create a best-seller. I can make my story more wild. But I am unwilling to do so.

Have you read Wild? Did the unlikely elements of the plot bother you or did you suspend your disbelief as you read? Or maybe you have a completely different viewpoint of this memoir?

Would you be willing to make your story wilder?

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing