Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

by Random House

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  • Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2012: At age 26, following the death of her mother, divorce, and a run of
    reckless behavior, Cheryl Strayed found herself alone near the foot of the Pacific Crest Trail--inexperienced,
    over-equipped, and desperate to reclaim her life. Wild tracks Strayed's personal journey on the PCT through California
    and Oregon, as she comes to terms with devastating loss and her unpredictable reactions to it. While readers looking for
    adventure or a naturalist's perspective may be distracted by the emotional odyssey at the core of the story, Wild
    vividly describes the grueling life of the long-distance hiker, the ubiquitous perils of the PCT, and its peculiar
    community of wanderers. Others may find her unsympathetic--just one victim of her own questionable choices. But Strayed
    doesn't want sympathy, and her confident prose stands on its own, deftly pulling both threads into a story that inhabits
    a unique riparian zone between wilderness tale and personal-redemption memoir. --Jon Foro

    From Author Cheryl Strayed

    Oprah and Cheryl StrayedOprah with Cheryl Strayed, author of Book Club 2.0's inaugural selection, Wild.
    I wrote the last line of my first book, Torch, and then spent an hour crying while lying on a cool tile floor in a house
    on a hot Brazilian island. After I finished my second book, Wild, I walked alone for miles under a clear blue sky on an
    empty road in the Oregon Outback. I sat bundled in my coat on a cold patio at midnight staring up at the endless
    December stars after completing my third book, Tiny Beautiful Things. There are only a handful of other days in my
    life--my wedding, the births of my children--that I remember as vividly as those solitary days on which I finished my
    books. The settings and situations were different, but the feeling was the same: an overwhelming mix of joy and
    gratitude, humility and relief, pride and wonder. After much labor, I'd made this thing. A book. Though it wasn't
    technically that yet.

    The real book came later--after more work, but this time it involved various others, including agents,
    publishers, editors, designers, and publicists, all of whose jobs are necessary but sometimes indecipherable to me.
    They're the ones who transformed the thousands of words I'd privately and carefully conjured into something that could
    be shared with other people. "I wrote this!" I exclaimed in amazement when I first held each actual, physical book in my
    hands. I wasn't amazed that it existed; I was amazed by what its existence meant: that it no longer belonged to me.

    Two months before Wild was published I stood on a Mexican beach at sunset with my family assisting dozens of
    baby turtles on their stumbling journey across the sand, then watching as they disappeared into the sea. The junction
    between writer and author is a bit like that. In one role total vigilance is necessary; in the other, there's nothing to
    do but hope for the best. A book, like those newborn turtles, will ride whatever wave takes it.

    It's deeply rewarding to me when I learn that something I wrote moved or inspired or entertained someone; and
    it's crushing to hear that my writing bored or annoyed or enraged another. But an author has to stand back from both the
    praise and the criticism once a book is out in the world. The story I chose to write in Wild for no other reason than I
    felt driven to belongs to those who read it, not me. And yet I'll never forget what it once was, long before I could
    even imagine how gloriously it would someday be swept away from me.