Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 18

of which, beyond that of a daily kill record, is left mostly to the imagination of the receptor. It took the authorities about two weeks to identify the body with certainty and the story was reported by Jon Krakauer in the magazine Outside. The piece was so enthusiastically received by the readers of the magazine that Krakauer set out to turn the tragic misadventure of Chris McCandless into a full-length book, Into the Wild, which became a best-seller and inspired Sean Penn’s eponymous film. By then, we were already into fiction. Fictions McCandless’ original story doubtlessly deals with the most primordial issue of human condition – mere, elementary survival – in a more suggestive than explicit manner, which might explain in part its success in the media, for, as we identify almost instantaneously with what appears to be the rejection of an exceedingly structured and merchandised society, we feel free, almost obliged to fill in the blanks. It is exactly what Jon Krakauer does in his monograph, Into the Wild, where he chooses to represent a blend of the fictitious Alexander Supertramp and of the real Christopher McCandless, who emerges from his narrative as some type of romantic and profound hero, wise beyond his age, and whose death is only due to a tragic mistake rather than to a series of serious miscalculations and misplaced convictions that simply led to progressive and fatal starvation. Krakauer goes the distance in trying to prove McCandless’ innocence regarding the vandalized cabins that summer, arguing that “it’s difficult to imagine him destroying the buildings without boasting of the deed in his diary,” (134-135) omitting the fact that the aforementioned “diary” is mostly composed of single word entries and does not enlighten us much regarding the activities of McCandless, especially towards the beginning of his stay, when he was apparently still quite mobile. Day 26 states “Climb Mountain!” and day 28, “Vicinity bus moose:” both of these entries imply that McCandless explored the area around the bus, making perfectly plausible that he would have happened to find the cabins that were ransacked. There is simply not enough room in McCandless’ so-called “diary,” written on the end papers of a book on native Alaskan edible plants, to boast about much: day 11 for instance only states “Disaster,” and day 14, “Misery;” following Krakauer’s logic, McCandless could have come upon the neighboring cabins on either of these two days and refer to their presence by either “disaster” or “misery,” since his declared intent was to be truly alone in the wild, a feat difficult to achieve next 18