For readers and listeners of Jon Krakauer and The Lost City of Z, a remarkable tale of survival and solitude - the true story of a man who lived alone in a tent in the Maine woods, never talking to another person and surviving by stealing supplies from nearby cabins for 27 years.
In 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed, but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of the why and how of his secluded life - as well as the challenges he has faced returning to the world. A riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way - and succeeded.
©2017 Michael Finkel (P)2017 Random House Audio
"[A] fascinating account of Knight's renunciation of humanity.... Deeply compelling." (Publishers Weekly)
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
There's no doubt that Christopher Knight's story is absolutely captivating... at first. And Michael Finkel does his best to portray him as a hero of sorts. Knight was a man who simply decided to bow out of society. Right?
Well, not quite. I listened to "The Stranger in the Woods" twice, and the second time brought out a lot of the story's flaws, a lot of Knight's flaws. It's no wonder that true hermits are peeved about his "Hermit" status because the man brought society with him. He stole a television set, a radio with TV, trashy books. He lived off Marshmallow Fluff and Chimichangas. He had his own city dump style garbage pit of plastics and waxed cardboard trash.
Mostly, the man was no hero--the more I listened to it the more it became clear that Knight is a man completely lacking in empathy. He knew he was causing fear, knew he was taking that which did not belong to him, knew plenty but felt he was entitled to it all.
Finkel's book covers why someone would shun society: political reasons, philosophical reasons, biochemical reasons, etc. etc. But there's no answer for Knight. At first I found this to be unsatisfying then I didn't care. Sure, it's pretty hilarious that Knight used pages from John Grisham novels when toilet paper was running low, but no, it's not funny when you consistently screw over strangers, even family. Further, the Publisher's Summary says this is based on extensive interviews and such, but actually it was nine one-hour prison interviews and a couple of quick interactions with Knight.
Take your chance with this book, if you're interested. As someone who's worked the graveyard shift for a couple of decades, I can attest that you lose social skills, so it's interesting that Knight lost his ability to pick up on body/facial cues, make eye contact. But the more I listened to the book, the more it came to me that the man simply doesn't care about other people... except for stealing from them. God forbid he should try to live off the land. Not while he could steal from them, judging them harshly the whole time...
Yes, I quite enjoyed this. It investigates not only the pragmatic questions (how did he do it? what happened?) but also the more philosophical questions (why did he do it? what did he learn? what does it mean?). The author doesn't necessarily try to answer every question, but he does a great job of equipping the reader to draw conclusions for himself. The narrator was also excellent, bringing Chris Knight's voice to life in a way that I would have lost reading it to myself.
My expectations of this book were not high. I had anticipated a fairly sensationalist treatment of a bizarre story. Instead, I found a beautifully written, sensitive and richly contextualized treatment, one that situates the fascinating story of Chris Knight within an informed rumination on the nature of loneliness and human connection.
Retired and loving it.
Finally, I found a book that grabbed my attention and would not let me go. Do you desire to be alone? Do you love solitude? What if you could take off all of the masks you wear? The one you wear for your spouse, each child, the teacher, the preacher, your church friends, your co workers, customers, neighbors, yourself when you look in the mirror, etc. Who would you be? I sure don't know. Being all alone is very desirable to me and that is why this book caught my attention. It is told in a very catching way. I like how Mr Finkel has delved into so much research on different aspects of this man's character. What caused him to be this way. I found no doubt in the fact that this story is true. Did you ever make a tree house or a pretend house in the woods or some sort of hiding spot as a child? Perhaps we might all have a longing to this hidden secret spot where no one can bother you. The author has brought so many deep thought provoking thoughts with his questions. The narrator did a fairly decent job. occasionally slipping into a faster paced speech when it should have been slower but overall was very enjoyable to listen to. I have not written a review on a book for a long time but was so delighted with this book that I had to. I even shared it on my facebook page.
I could not stop listening and thinking about this story. The story telling is rich and told with so much heart. One of the best narrations I have ever heard on Audible. Listen to this book!
I found it interesting to hear his story with the way he lived and gave me more of an understanding of people like him. I enjoyed that it is a true story, they should make a movie!
Because knight was a guy that had nothing to say or offer to the world this story is lame and boring. I give the the author credit for trying to make it into a Chris mccandless story but it's truly a basic story about a social misfit that lives like white trash in the "wilderness". I'll be getting an audible refund for this waste of 6 hours.
It was great.
Tell us about yourself!
Not sure if all listeners will enjoy this as much as I did. Was worried it would be dry reading /listening but author made the experience very enjoyable and interesting. I highly respect Chris Knight experience and am honored to have heard his thoughts via the Author of this book.
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