Monday, March 20, 2017

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel- Book Review

I don't think there is an introvert who hasn't had the thought- "What if I lived in the woods away from everyone for a while." If you have had that thought, now imagine doing it for 27 years, in a tent, in Maine, and never lighting a fire. That is exactly what Christopher Knight did in the 80s until his arrest 27 years later. Twenty seven years with only one human contact in that time by a hiker to whom he said- hello. Twenty seven years even through winter where he swears he did not light one fire because he didn't want to draw people to his site.

One of the natural questions is how did he survive? That is how he was arrested. For 27 years, he broke into empty vacation houses and a local camp, where he would steal food, clothes, books, games, batteries, and a variety of other things he needed. He had a theft code- no permanent residences, no scaring people, only steal what was needed, and try to fix whatever he broke before leaving.

The other major question is why do it? What kind of person does this? This is what the rest of book explores. How can a seemingly normal guy- he was super clean, well shaven, even though his camp smelled, and kept up with current events- do such a thing? What did his family think? What did he do for 27 years?

I was worried when I got this book from Book of the Month that after the initial story there wouldn't be much left. The good news is the book is short enough and interesting enough that it doesn't fall apart. The book all rests on Christopher Knight's personality, who as it turns out isn't a kook, but a pretty smart guy who just sees the world differently. He is crass at times, but he hasn't had to have a filter, so it works. Finkel is a reporter who writes this with just enough info, but not too much to bore the reader.

My very minor critique was there wasn't a picture of Knight in the book, so every time I read his name, I kept finding myself thinking about the Brady Bunch Knight. That was just me though. Having a picture of the guy we are reading about would have been a big help.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is a super quick read and a cool story.

I gave this one 4 stars

Here is your Book of the Month link- try it for just $9.99 a month for 3 months- The Stranger in the Woods

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