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To me it almost feels wrong to discuss this book, because you're discussing a man's life. Who am I to pass judgement on someone I only know through someone else's perspective of them? So I will try to keep this to how this all felt to me.
At first I was intrigued by his lifestyle. I love camping, and I love the empowering nature of being by yourself, feeding yourself, keeping yourself warm. I enjoy just thinking and day dreaming at times. However, at a point in this book I became annoyed or frustrated with the crimes he committed to perpetuate his life style. Perhaps there is something to say for stealing for ones survival, but he took hand held gaming devices, and he declined help from others. To me it was frustrating to read something about someone seeking peace and solitude because he was so weighed down by the fact that he did not fit in, but creating chaos and insecurity in other's lives even when they offered him the respect and understanding of helping him. To me it was like he wasn't removing himself from society, he was just dictating his role within it without experiencing the consequences or rather, people's reactions.
But then near the end of the book when the author describes crying with Knight at his mother's home. When he described how Knight had found fulfillment, contentment, and purpose, and that was ripped away from him. Regardless of the manner in which he found those things, I understand what it feels like to have them taken away. I have been in a situation where I found peace, and fulfillment, and an excitement to wake up in the morning. All the time knowing it wouldn't last, but clinging to it for while it lasted. When it was gone, I felt completely destroyed, and I understand that longing and that out of body feeling.
So I while I don't understand the specifics of why Knight chose to do what he did, I empathize with what he has gone through and the lasting impact it will have on him. I think the author did a great job with the story he wanted to tell.
Help! I'm having a hard time picking my BOTM for April! Which one(s) are you all leaning towards!?
What do you all think about Chris Knight's moral code? He seems to feel guilt about stealing (at least according to the author), but he chooses to steal rather than accept any gifts from the cabin owners. He claims to steal only things that do not appear to be too valuable, but he seems to have no concept of sentimental value. Once he's caught, he doesn't want to shame his mother or family by letting them know he's in jail but is perfectly fine with causing them anguish at his disappearance and leaving his brother with the payments for his abandoned car. I'm curious to see what you all make of this.
I wrote this in a response to another post, do you think this book is promoting this lifestyle? Live in the woods, live off of the land? Similarly, Into the Wild brought another "hermit," story to us all, and we have seen many challenges since (I'm from Alaska and every year people attempt & are rescued trying to go out to the "Into the Wild" bus). So what are the pros & cons with a story like Stranger in the Woods bringing to the reader? Obviously his thefts could have been avoided, but what else?
I enjoyed reading this book. It really made me think about the idea of being a hermit and independent. The questions I have was whether Chris really ever wanted to be on his own? If he had, why would he allow himself to be so dependent on others for his survival? Would he not try to learn how to be self-sufficient? I was just confused that while Chris hated being part of society he chose to live among it and thrive from it. The other issue I had with his story was that he never had to pay for what he did. While what he stole seemed insignificant, the issue I have is that he stole people's sense of peace in their own home. How does someone put a cost to that? While I enjoyed the book and I feel that Chris ultimately didn't intend to hurt anyone, these are the questions that I was left with after I finished reading the book.
Hey all -
I was just curious about everyone's perspectives on this question: Was it unethical for the author to write this book? Chris Knight seemed like he really didn't want to be famous or well-known (quite the opposite in fact), and although it sounds like he at least knew that the author was writing the book, he doesn't want the fallout and fame that might come from it. Does the author breach some kind of ethical duty by publishing his interactions with Chris?
On a related note, should the author have just left him alone? Chris clearly expressed multiple times that he did not want to see the author and wanted to end correspondence with him. Should the author have abandoned trying to forge a friendship with Chris and just let him be?
Did anyone else get the sense that the author had an unhealthy obsession with this project at the end?
I was overall unimpressed by the storytelling in this book, 3 stars at best -- but once I read the last few chapters where Michael Finkel RELENTLESSLY stalked Chris Knight, I was immediately off-put and creeped out.
One question I've wrestled with is why this story got told. Put it another way, would a book have been written about a black man who committed a felony 1,000s of times over decades, holding a neighborhood in terror and whose victims said, "I couldn't leave my windows open, I couldn't even go and sit by the beach without worrying. He stole every bit of my piece of heaven." And another victim, "But we were invaded, completely invaded. I always feared he'd come in the night, when my grandchildren were there...I can't think of anything in my life I"ve been so bitter about." If the court system were looking at a man who looked like, acted like, and spoke like a "thug" would they have been so inclined to say oh dear, jail will be so stressful for him, let's just give him time served and one year's probation. ???
One of my favorite lines of the book was the one about Christopher Knight being a Rorschach Test, where we all project ourselves onto his story/being. It was impossible not to think of "Into the Wild" and Christopher McCandless as well, and I would say the same of him -- he becomes the allegory of our choosing. I am ultimately sympathetic toward people that feel a certain amount of discomfort within the boundaries of society and are looking for some sense of contentedness in the wild. Sheesh -- doesn't that sound like most of us?
I really enjoyed the book, and I appreciate getting to know more of Christopher Knight's story (wow -- surviving all of those winters), but that doesn't seem to be what he wanted for himself, so I hope that he is allowed a sense of privacy. But, as I finished typing that line I switched to another tab and Googled pictures of him (something I hadn't done yet), and realize that I am perpetuating the existence he didn't seem to want.
I'll end with a question -- Did anyone else feel like the cabin owners truly were victims -- but that there is no sense of justice in punishing someone like Knight? I totally get the owner's fears though-- and how their sense of peace had been so imposed upon.
Hey everyone! First post and first book (of BOTM, not first book ever). One of my main feelings about this book is that I was angry (jealous?) of Chris but at the same time really enjoyed his perspective on living. Although I can say I don't hate society quite as much as he does, I do find myself wondering if the world we live in now has clouded our ability to truly think about what we're doing here. In fact, I sort of hate myself now for using this computer to converse. Is there any chance of getting back in touch with ourselves even if this might not have been Chris' purpose?
This could have been a fascinating tale if the author had explored all sides. He limited his scope to one person, whom it is clear he felt a personal connection with, and I feel he was too influenced by the fact that he liked the guy to tell the full story. I'm sorry, but Chris was a class A jerk. He's raised to be self-sufficient, he's a master of patience and finding patterns, he's smart and able to build structures, he brags about his own woodscraft...but he can't build a trap to catch fish or animals? He can't grow any kind of crop whatsoever? He can't gather edible plants? He develops elaborate methods and systems for remaining undetected but he can't figure out a hidden way to light a woodfire? The guy was angry at society and every act of thievery was a coward's strike against it. This isn't glorious hermitude for deeper meaning; this is pure selfishness from an asocial bastard. The author wrote a few brief lines about the toll of fear and horror felt by the innocent and vulnerable whom Chris preyed upon. This story would've been a more complete picture and better rounded tale if he'd put aside his personal affection and conveyed everyone's side. What about those who sold their cabins? We don't hear from them but I bet there were many who made the decision to leave based on Chris's actions. It's inconscionable to so fully neglect the victim's side of this story. (FWIW, I'm a special education teacher who works with autistic kids. I know autism and this goes far beyond that. This goes into the criminal realm. Perhaps I'm so angry that once again a poorly informed author has overused a convenient label to completely excuse yet another misfit. As if all harm can be written off so long as you're on the spectrum.) Chris knew he was harming others and he made up a convenient reason for why he had to do it. All attempts to portray himself as a victim were calculated. The author, and more importantly, the court system, got played.
So for this month, I decided to branch out of the genre I usually pick- and I was very pleased. :) I loved this account and learning more about Chris's story as well. I think that I may have also been biased as I grew up in Dayton, ME and was curious to read about something so significant happening in my state. Overall, I thought the novel was great. My favorite line from the book: "But life isn't about searching endlessly to find what's missing; it's about learning to live with the missing parts."
I'm definitely going to be looking at the news stories, etc. :)
I had really high hopes for this book and feel a little disappointed. While the subject matter is super interesting, I can't help but feel that the story shouldn't have been written. Or if it was going to be written, I think a different author could have done it more justice. I feel bad saying that, but the entire time I was comparing it to books like In Cold Blood, and it just didn't meet my expectations in terms of style and writing ability.
This is by far one of the most interesting books I have ever read. When I was not reading this book I was thinking about it or talking about it. I read parts of it out loud to my partner, I recommended it to a friend, I talked about it at a family gathering. For me, it was so hard to wrap my head around someone living a solitary life, by choice, for nearly three decades. While this would have been an impossible feat for me personally, I can understand Chris Knight's desire (compulsion even) to live as a recluse in nature. It was heart breaking to read about Chris' incarceration and the whole time I was reading, I was waiting to get to the end to know what happened to him. I was heartened to know he did not have to serve a life sentence for his break-ins, but struggle knowing he is living a life enmeshed in a society to which he does fully belong. I forced myself to wait until the end of the book before I looked up any information about Chris Knight - the pictures of his campsite were fascinating. Overall, this was an astonishing read and one I probably would not have chosen without BOTM. Highly recommend.
I thought this book was fascinating. What did you guys make of Christopher's grand life insight- "get enough sleep"?
Although I have not yet begun reading this book, I thought I would share a video from a local T.V. station. I live in Maine, where the North Pond Hermit found shelter for twenty five years. Here is the link if anyone is interested!
I look forward to starting this book and hearing what everyone else has to say!