Oatmeal clotting in silver Revere Ware;
raisins in bed on a cinnamon crust;
a brown coffee cup waiting,
like outstretched hands,
to be filled.
Three untouched bowls linger
beside folded napkins that absorb
the light pouring in through window panes.
(Rock, Paper, Scissors)
We call her Grits. She has frizzy blonde hair, an upstate New York accent and unparalleled durability. One of my junior-year housemates, she appears bound for running greatness. She possesses a long, lean frame and sinewy legs and earns her nickname by breaking through exhaustion with jaw-dropping regularity.
Swish, swish. Grits never stops, never lets up. She runs like an African oryx, fluid and high-kneed.
Yikes! she yells before practice one afternoon, a propos of nothing. We’re lying in a circle, knees to chest, the track’s nubby tread carving squiggles into our lower backs. She says the word again—Yi-hi-hi-kes!—teasing out the vowel like a whinnying horse.
Her nickname was bestowed by a Tennessean teammate. Her real name is Laurie, although nobody uses it. A transfer from a big school up North, she has a bright, self-conscious smile and a penchant for emitting one-word exclamations that we all pick up like a contagion.
I have an awkward, inefficient stride. But I work hard, keep up in practice and report faithfully for the morning workouts, so the coach says what the heck, I can run with the team.
(Washington Independent Review of Books)
In 1996, author Jon Krakauer immortalized the life and tragic death of Chris McCandless, whose emaciated and decomposed body was discovered in an abandoned bus in the remotest reaches of Alaska. Krakauer’s haunting narrative, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, spawned a movie, and raised unsettling, seemingly unanswerable questions.
What would prompt a young man to leave behind the comforts of an upper-middle-class life, cut off all contact with his family, and trek alone into the wilderness? Should such a quest be chalked up to stubbornness, selfishness, idealism, or all of the above?
Nearly two decades later, McCandless’s younger sister, Carine, seeks to make amends and quell mistaken assumptions in The Wild Truth, her attempt to “find a comfortable place between truth and necessity.”