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The Stranger In The Woods
The Stranger in the Woods: The extraordinary story of the last true hermit by Micheal Finkel is an easy and quick read, that also leaves the reader with few tidbits to consider.
Written about Christopher Knight, a man who spent 26 years living alone in the Maine woods, purposefully, and almost successfully, avoiding contact with another soul for almost the entirety of his tenure.
The book can be broken up into two parts: one part why, the second part how, and is a worthwhile read if you find yourself wondering either of these things when learning about this man’s feat.
Micheal Finkel strives to understand the man behind the ‘hermit’ (a term closely analyzed throughout the book). He looks into the history of hermits and their role in society. He also looks at the role that this particular hermit played in his own society, his acts of thievery, driven from survival, ironically making him just as much a part of the cabin community as his not-so-far-away neighbors.
Finkel also explores the revelations of history’s hermits, citing quotable, meaningful tidbits, some coming unintentionally from Knight himself. While the writing itself is clear and to-the-point, some of the quotes are underline-worthy, and could potentially find themselves on water bottles sold at a yoga shop.
Written like an extended magazine article, the book achieves a journalist’s required W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why. But the one thing lacking was the new-fangled So What? Finkel leaves the reader with a few of his thoughts, but I found the book lacking in a grand conclusion, a reason for why I went on this journalistic journey with him in the first place. But perhaps this will give me something to ponder on my next solo walk through the woods.