Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 25

of the Fairbanks 142 bus. She is the author of The Wild Truth, a memoir published in 2014, in which she explains that Christopher McCandless’ decision to run into the wild is chiefly to blame upon their dysfunctional familial environment as young children. As she emphatically declares in the PBS documentary, Return to the Wild, she considers herself a “survivor,” an interesting choice words since “surviving” could be considered as the main theme of her brother’s story. By virtue of the mystique that has been created around Chris McCandless’ death, his sister has become some type of self-declared authority on the subject of life and living – yet another paradox – and gives lectures bearing powerful titles such as “Your DNA Does Not Define You.” Knowingly or unknowingly, Carine McCandless has reached and entertains some type of notoriety due exclusively to the premature death of her brother and has greatly contributed to cement his fame as some type of spiritual guide, who has taught her a great deal and whose words and legacy are to be preserved and promoted. Naturally, the picture of the bus Fairbanks 142 appears on the cover of her memoir as well as a visual aid during her presentations: it has indeed become a “magic bus,” for it has carried the undefined spirit of Christopher McCandless along with Krakauer, Penn, his parents and his sister for over two decades through the society of spectacle.   “Inspiration” is a word often associated to McCandless and his misadventure, as well as “soul,” “spirit,” “courage” and “freedom.” As to what exactly is the inspiration one can find in the real story of McCandless, that remains to be determined. Alexander Supertramp was “a free spirit,” in the sense that he abandoned his family and never seemed to care deeply about any other human being; however, he did depend on cars and roads to travel; he rejected civilization, nonetheless, he was reading translated Russian novels in paperback, that is consuming on a daily bases pure products of our modern lifestyle; he was set on living off the land and communing with nature, but not without a .22 and 400 rounds of ammunition procured in Fairbanks. The PBS documentary, Return to the Wild, which shows Carine McCandless and her half-sister returning to the bus where Christopher’s body was found does not enlighten us regarding McCandless’ alleged legacy. In between breathtaking views of the Alaskan wilderness and highly moving shots of her and her half- sister hugging and crying elegantly in front of the bus Fairbanks 142, Carine McCandless speaks abundantly of the quasi-mystical quest of her brother and of the incalculable influence his “philosophy” had upon her life, however, we are never informed upon the particulars of either. We might as well be confused when she affirms that her brother taught her how to become a writer, 25