With marathon training picking up again, I decided to put my book group on hold. It was becoming a bit too much to be the organizer and host, but I really dig chopping it up about books, so I joined an all-female Meetup book group near my home. I was totally looking forward to attending my first meeting later this month and discussing Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Even though I probably wouldn’t have picked up Wild myself, the story interested me, and I like reading some of that type of genre. Meaning, I like running books and enjoyed Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. I certainly didn’t expect a literary masterpiece…but holy hell.
In three “I” words: indulgent, improbable, insufferable.
Here is my review of the first two chapters and one paragraph, because seriously, Unfinishable!
First of all, Strayed is terribly unlikeable. I’ve read that some women view her as a heroine, someone who dug deep to find herself and her untapped strength, blah blah blah. I found her wholly enchanted by her own Specialness. Yes, there are some unique circumstances that she was raised in, like living in a log cabin for a few of her childhood years. However, the first two chapters of her navel-gazing seemed self-serving, like a prelude to her explanation for her bad behavior. Look at my weird upbringing! She eventually gets to the real cause, though, for her serial infidelity: her mother died of cancer. Excuse me!?! Many people have lost a loved one to cancer, and they don’t screw the cook at the restaurant they’re working at while they’re married. Grr.
Even with Strayed being an unsympathetic character, I was willing to plod on. Hoping if at least she remained unlikeable, the story would be good enough to carry me through to the end. Then I got to these four sentences.
See, there were indications of this shit writing earlier, but this? This sent me over the edge. The fucking petal metaphor. Really? No…really?
I would have said it was a waste of one hour, but my friend noted that sometimes it takes us reading the bad to appreciate the good, and she’s right. I had pretty much liked everything I’d read recently and wondered if not hosting my book group had caused me to lose my critical eye and left me with a lack of discernment. But no. So I guess “Thank you, Cheryl Strayed”? I know this review sounds harsh, especially as I realize many people found her story inspiring; however, I’m not nearly half as critical as this blogger who has devoted an entire blog to Wild entitled “I Hate Cheryl Strayed.” Each entry breaks down a chapter from the book, and not only critiques the writing, but the improbability of Strayed’s claims — even down to how heavy her backpack really was.
Anyway, I thought about finishing Wild as a hate read, but as noted in this post, there are like twenty-something other books I want to read this year, so I will be moving on. I also toyed with the idea of showing up to the book club meeting anyway, but perhaps my group debut should be less hostile. I really am trying to make more women friends, after all.
I’d love to end this review with a cutting pun using “Wild” and “Strayed,” but I just want to put this wildermess behind me. (Ha!)
P.S. My friend called the movie “hateful,” so I’ll be passing on that too.