Thursday, December 11, 2014

Part Eleven of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Six, Part One: She Doesn't Understand How Lying Works

A review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Part Eleven: Chapter Six, Part One: She Doesn't Understand How Lying Works

God help us all, Chapter Six opens with this:

"I devoured a good six feet of Frank's red licorice as he drove, and I'd have eaten a good six feet more if it had been available."
Please tell me that she's talking about actual licorice.
They drive to Frank's trailer and he goes inside to let his wife, Annette, know that she will have to cater to Cheryl's every need for the evening.
 "A few minutes later they emerged together.  Annette was plump and gray-haired, the expression on her face unwelcoming and suspicious. 'Is that all you got?' she grouched as Frank pulled my pack from his truck.  I followed them inside, where Frank immediately disappeared into the bathroom."
Probably to wash off his licorice.
I already like Annette because she is clearly unimpressed with Cheryl and seems irritated by her presence.  She makes dinner for Cheryl while the television blares in the corner of the trailer and there's another news story on about the O.J. Simpson trial.  I really don't understand why Cheryl feels the need to bring this up.
Even though Cheryl hasn't bathed in over a week, she decides not to wash her hands before eating, and-- selfish bitch that she is-- does not bother to express any sort of gratitude to the woman who is feeding her.  Instead, she starts shoveling food into her gaping maw and, in between bites, lies to her hostess about how she's a college graduate even though "it was technically a lie."  Cheryl then explains to us-- not to Annette-- that she almost graduated from college, but didn't because... wait for it... OMG HER MOM DIED, HAS SHE MENTIONED THIS YET?  Now, before you start thinking that I'm a heartless douche, let me explain that Cheryl didn't really drop out of college because her mom died-- that would almost be understandable-- but she's still going to blame it on her mom because she can't take responsibility for any of her own actions.  I'll let Cheryl explain: 
"I did not receive my degree because I'd failed to do one thing.  I had not written a five-page paper for an intermediate-level English class."

This makes NO sense whatsoever because what the hell was Cheryl "Hemingway" Strayed doing taking an "intermediate-level English class" at what should have been the end of her college career?  And why, for fuck's sake, was she unable to write a five-page paper?  Jesus Christ, an illiterate chimpanzee could have written a five-page paper on the bus ride to the campus, but Cheryl flushes her college diploma down the toilet over this one little thing, and NO.  I just can't accept this explanation.  I don't even know what more I can say about this, and neither does Cheryl, so I will move on.

Clearly, there was no ass-kissing going on at Frank and Annette's place because she doesn't say anything else about her stay, nor does she even once hint that she thanked them in any way.  It's already morning and Frank is dropping her off at a convenience store.  She starts hitchhiking again because "that's what hikers do" and finally catches a ride with a man who was obviously white because she doesn't describe him in any way.  He drops her off at an outdoor supply store so she can get her stupid stove fixed and then she heads to a restaurant:

"[I] ordered a chocolate malt and a cheeseburger with fries, feeling as I had at dinner the evening before: shattered by each delicious bite."
Here we go with "shattered."  Hope you like that word, because Cheryl sure does.
As she's deciding whether to start hitchhiking again or stay the night at a motel, "a scruffy-looking man" rode up to her on a bicycle.  This is the only white man in the entire book who Cheryl does not immediately want to bang or at least even consider banging. Apparently, he looks homeless and he smells.  Even a whore like Cheryl has standards.
He is harmless, friendly and tries to be helpful-- even offering her food-- and Cheryl responds to his kindness by being a self-righteous, condescending bitch because she's Cheryl Strayed. 

She finds a motel and the man behind the desk, Bud, immediately starts kissing her ass because she's so amazing and then insists on washing her clothes for her.  She goes to her room to take her clothes off and returns to the motel office with her pile of stank.

"'It's 'cause I like your bracelet.  That's why I offered,' said Bud.  I pulled up the sleeve of my raincoat and we looked at it.  It was a faded silver cuff, a POW/MIA bracelet my friend Aimee had clamped onto my wrist as we said goodbye on a street in Minneapolis weeks before."

Oh, I don't even have words. Just... furious... right now.  She goes out of her way to explain that her friend Aimee had "worn the bracelet for years without ever taking it off," and then goes on to say,

"Since the moment she'd given it to me, neither had I."
Bud explains how he's a Vietnam veteran and then says a bunch of stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense, and then this happens:
"There was a cigarette burning in a plastic ashtray nearby that Bud picked up but didn't bring to his lips.  'So I'm gonna assume you know there's a lot of snow up there on the Sierra Nevada this year.'
"'Snow?' I asked.
Here we go again with Cheryl not understanding how something works and also how she did not bother to look into weather conditions before starting this hike.  She is shocked about the prospect of *snow on mountains.*
She goes back to her room to take a shower and a bath, then lies down and starts reading Faulkner's As I Lay Dying-- one of the five books she's carrying because she doesn't want you to forget how well-read she is-- before the concept of snow hits her again.
"I knew snow.  I had grown up in Minnesota, after all.  I'd shoveled it, driven in it, and balled it up in my hands to throw.  I'd watched it through windows for days as it fell into piles that stayed frozen for months on the ground.  But this snow was different.  It was snow that covered the Sierra Nevada so indomitably that the mountains had been named for it-- in Spanish, Sierra Nevada means 'the snowy range.'"
"Thanks, Dora." --Jaime
Blah, blah, blah, she copies some stuff from Wikipedia about the Sierra Nevada range and omg, she's just so knowledgeable.  She then calls the Bureau of Land Management to learn how snow works.
"'Oh, yes, there's lots of snow up there,' said the woman who answered.  She didn't know the specifics, she told me, but she knew for certain it had been a record year for snowfall in the Sierras.  When I told her I was hiking the PCT, she offered to give me a ride to the trail.  I hung up the phone feeling more relieved that I didn't have to hitchhike than worried about the snow.  It simply seemed so far away, so impossible."

She then assumes that you're a fucking idiot and gives a recap of how awesome she is at hiking, at one point making the claim that in the past few days she had "ascended and descended countless mountains" and no she didn't because Cheryl doesn't know the difference between a mountain and a hill.  And she'd done all this super amazing stuff with "a pack that weighed more than half of what [she] did." 

Blaaaaarrrrggggggg, more overwrought crap and then BLAM my personal copy of this book just blew the fuck up with margin notes because I am familiar with math and I don't think Cheryl was counting on this.

Uh-oh, here comes some fact-checking.
Cheryl says that she is now 52 miles from her first resupply box which, on page 70, she had said was 135 "trail miles" into her hike.
Wait a minute.
We know that it took her 3 days to walk the first 17 miles.  On days four, five, six and seven, she claims that she was walking 9 miles a day, and even though I don't believe that for a second, let's just go with that.  On the morning of day eight, she left the trail to go hitchhiking.  Let's add this up.
17+9+9+9+9= 53 miles.
If, at the start her hike, she was 135 miles away from her first resupply box, she should be 82 miles away from this resupply box, not 52 miles.  She has just unintentionally admitted that she skipped 30 miles of the trail.
That's all I can muster today-- math is hard!  We'll continue on with Chapter Six tomorrow.


  1. OMFG! Here we go with her insane weather claims again.
    So, let me back up. Cheryl is referring to the Lake Isabella area when she recalls a motel, diner, and hardware store. In fact, I'd be willing to bet a fiver on her milkshake being from Neldas. It's just a good fucking milkshake.
    But, here's where the weather again gets fuzzy.
    Yes. The snow level in 1995 was pretty high in certain areas of the Sierra. Tioga Pass, in Yosemite, had a good amount of snow. But, the thing about snow is, it's not the number of inches that have fallen, it's the amount of moisture in it. It matters. The higher the moisture content- the longer it lasts and the wetter the area. The thing about 95' was that the water content wasn't very high. It was light snow and it was well and truly off the passes by July. But, we're in June, right? Yes. Cheryl is in June...and she's got a at least a hundred miles until she hits the deep snow. Forrester Pass is the highest point on the trail. It stands at 13,153 feet. IT ALWAYS HAS SNOW ON IT. Why? Because, it is home to a glacier. In 1995, yes, the pass had snow...quite a bit. But, strangely, (I say this sarcastically) it also got warmer than normal in July of 1995. The snow in the lower elevations between Walker Pass and Forester pass was, in most places, gone. There were other areas where it was deeper than average, but not wetter. You could post hole it pretty effectively and HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE DID. You can google trail records from Mt. Whitney, the PCT, The John Muir Trail and you'll see that, while there was snow, it wasn't impassible and it wasn't unexpected.

    That Cheryl didn't expect it says volumes about her preperation for the trip. Pick up a god damn book! Or, better yet, it being 1995, call the Forest Service (You know, the number you should've called to get permits for for some of your trip ...oooops) and they would've given you a status update. Depending on "Bud" from the hotel is beyond irresponsible. I don't suppose that the fact that the Sierra Nevada literally means "snowy range" in Spanish might've been a clue to what you were getting into?

    Nope. Too much dick to suck and smack to do.

    Math *is* hard. Maybe she's using "new math" and we're just not enlightened enough.
    And, btw, it''s at this point when the faster PCT hikers that year should've been passing Cheryl. Guys? Gals? Anybody seen this little blonde chick with a gargantuan blue backpack on? Anyone? Bueller....Bueller....

    NO! She still hasn't referenced seeing ANY OTHER FUCKING HIKER! As slow as she's going, they should be lapping her. And, oh....damn...she missed a couple of trail registers? WHAT!?!

  2. If my husband ever came home from work with a malodorous twentysomething blonde, I'm pretty sure my immediate facial expression would be about as welcoming as Annette's. Heck, I bet if Brian Lindstrom (Cheryl's husband) came home from work one day with a malodorous twentysomething blonde, Cheryl would make the exact same face.

    Her non-completion of college was even more pathetic than you've stated here. The administrators were obviously very understanding - they gave her what seems to be an indefinite extension on that paper, and allowed her to participate in the graduation ceremony with her class, with the understanding that she wouldn't get her actual diploma until she wrote the paper. It's not just that she couldn't manage to B.S. a five-page paper immediately after her mother's death - it's that she couldn't pull herself together over the next *four years* enough to write that paper, even knowing she could take her sweet time on it and it would probably be graded in the most perfunctory manner anyway and that was literally all she needed to do to become a college graduate. She couldn't write *one paper* in the amount of time it's supposed to take to get *an entire college education*.

    1. Cheryl Strayed actually *teaches* writing classes. While you're letting that sink in, maybe you should grab a bucket or something because you'll need it for the vomit that's about to explode out of your mouth.

  3. "She makes dinner for Cheryl while the television blares in the corner of the trailer and there's another news story on about the O.J. Simpson trial. I really don't understand why Cheryl feels the need to bring this up."

    I had a PROFOUND revelation. Cheryl is obsessed with O.J. because he lied and even though all evidence supported his guilt, he still got away with it!


    1. Baaaaaahahahahahahahaaahahahahaaaaa I think you nailed it!

  4. Did you notice how she says she couldnt finish the paper because she just sat and stared at a blank 1991???

    She and I are the same age and I can tell you with certainty the only computers in the schools that students had access to were in the library and were used for finding books, not for students to use to write papers. Everyone still used typewriters, unless U Minnesota was FAR more advanced than Miami of Ohio was in technology (I think not). Much more likely this is another point where Shifty Cheryl is just making things up while sitting at her computer at 2am churning out fiction after half a dozen Jack & Cokes. Her head is as soft as a nurse's penis.

    1. BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA "Her head is as soft as a nurse's penis." Oh, you're just a delight. I'm so glad you're on here.

    2. Sorry, I'm going to have to give Cheryl a pass on this one. I started college in 1989 with a Commodore 128, one of my roommates had a PC (probably a 386) and another had a dedicated word processor. There were a few terminal rooms - rooms full of dumb terminals that could have been used for writing using text editors. So it is plausible she was staring at a screen in 1991. An 80 pound pack worth $3000 is another story though...

  5. Just discovered this blog tonight and am cackling with glee as I read through it. I am going to stop for tonight and save some for tomorrow so I have something to look forward to. I just read Wild last week after a few years of bestseller backlash and while I wasn't exactly surprised that a memoir was self-indulgent and overrated, it's still really annoying how many people get caught up in praising something that's simply not that great. Mostly I couldn't believe how much she felt the world had done something "to" her and how she acted like she just had to go be a cheater and heroin user who couldn't get her life together because her mom died, as if the death of a parent justified all her crap.. but now, thinking about how misleading her story is when major chunks of the trail were skipped is making the self-indulgence/did you know my mom died?/why-should-I-practice-for-a-1,000-mile-hike stuff even more annoying. Anyway, thanks for this hilarious blog! I'm cackling, I tell you!

  6. Greetings from Downunder! I've just finished reading "Wild". I had doubts about the book from early on, but it was when I reached the part that she somehow blew $250 in apparently a couple of days, I thought "WTF?" I searched Google and found this site, thank God. Love it....inciteful, clever and hilarious.

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  8. I'm enjoying your blog! Its entertaining to be sure - I started reading it because, like you, I found Cheryl Strayed's story to be suspect. Oh I'm sure she was grieving the death of her mother, but her story doesn't seem true - like her heroin addiction that she is able to overcome so easily. I'm sure parts of her story are true, but that is not what she is selling. She's selling the whole thing as factual. And, yes, her writing is pretentious and her ego is exhausting.