Monday, December 22, 2014

Part Nineteen of a review of ""Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Ten, Part One: Cheryl Kills a Horse.

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

Part Nineteen: Chapter Ten, Part One: Cheryl Kills a Horse.

Cheryl shows up at Packer Lake Lodge and immediately feels sorry for herself because omg there's food for sale at the restaurant and stupid Cheryl only has sixty cents to her name because she is an idiot.  She thinks about quitting again and then waits for people to take pity on her and give her everything she wants because that's how life is supposed to work if you're Cheryl Strayed.

"A menu sat on the counter and I picked it up just to see.  'Do you have anything that costs sixty cents or less?' I asked her in a jesting tone, so quiet my voice barely rose above the din.
"'Seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee.  Free refills,' she replied."
Cheryl tells the waitress that she has her own food, so there, stomps outside and goes to pout in front of the lodge.  And of course, some dumb lady approaches her to tell her how amazing she is and insists that Cheryl come back to her cabin so she can feed her and let her take a shower and I grow more and more exasperated every single time something like this happens.
Cheryl goes with the lady to her cabin, takes a shower, eats all of her food and says thank you exactly zero times.  Then Dumb Lady and her Dumb Husband listen to Cheryl talk about how she loves to read and they do a book exchange because apparently everybody has a whole fucking library with them out in the wilderness.  Cheryl trades in her super intellectual copy of Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories for some awful book that's totally beneath her called The Novel by James Michener and then we have to suffer through one of her goddamned flashbacks about her mom.  Usually, I'd just sum up the whole flashback with a neat and simple "blah blah blah," but Cheryl says some really stupid shit in this flashback, so let's waste some of our lives by rehashing it together.
After her first whole month at college, Cheryl learns that books the general public find entertaining are just pure garbage and then decides to smear this knowledge right in her mother's face because Cheryl is a huge fucking asshole.  Cheryl's mom was reading one of Michener's books and this is how Cheryl reacted to that:
"'You know that isn't a real book,' I'd said disdainfully to my mother when someone had given her Michener's Texas as a Christmas gift later that year.
"'Real?' My mother looked at me, quizzical and amused.
"'I mean serious.  Like actual literature worth your time,' I replied."
How no one has bitch-slapped Cheryl to death is beyond me.
Oh, if only we could all be as brilliant as Cheryl.  But a few paragraphs later, Cheryl admits that she, too, had loved Michener before she got all super smart and junk.  Then there was the time these words actually came out of her mouth as she was talking to her mother:
"'Aren't you amazed to see how much more sophisticated I am at twenty-one than you were?'"
I have no words.
She pretends like she now regrets all of this behavior and of course she doesn't because she's Cheryl Strayed. 

Flashback over.
HOLY SHIT, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS-- Cheryl then yellow-blazes another 57 miles of the trail by hitching a ride with two clinically brain-dead girls.  When Cheryl explains to them that she has no parents (which is a lie, by the way), they respond as such:
"'Wow,' said one of them.
"'Yeah,' said the other.
"'The upside is that I'm free.  I get to do whatever I want.'
"'Yeah,' said the one who'd said wow.
"'Wow,' said the one who'd said yeah."
Yeah, wow, go fuck yourself.  Never mind that you're 26 and you can do whatever you want because you're an adult.
As they're driving, Cheryl has another stupid flashback that I will skip this time around because life is only so long and I can't keep wasting mine by addressing all of her bullshit.
Anyway, the brain-dead girls drop her off at Whitehorse Campground and since we know that she had just come from Packer Lake Lodge...oh, look:

Uh-oh!  More fact-checking!
Hey, would you look at that.  Bet you a million dollars she still claims to have hiked those 57 miles even though she clearly didn't.  I can't even pretend to be surprised anymore.
Cheryl takes a look around the campground:
"I looked around at the water spigots, the sets of brown outhouses, and the big sign that explained how one should go about paying for a spot for the night by leaving money in an envelope that should then be deposited through a slot in a wooden box."

Cheryl is way too special to have to pay for anything and decides to just make herself at home without putting the fee in the box.  Awwww, snap, guess what happens.  Two totally mean old people show up, demand that she pay the fee and Cheryl acts like Cheryl.

"'I need to pay?' I said, with false innocence and surprise." 

Yeah, you fucking thief, you need to pay, why do you think the goddamned sign was there.  She tries to whine her way out of paying and I fucking love these old people.  They are having none of it.

"'None of that changes the fact that you have to pay, young lady,' the man bellowed with surprising power, his voice silencing me like a great horn in the fog.
 "'If you can't pay, you've got to pack up and leave,' said the woman."
Cheryl can't even believe that she's not going to get her way and still tries to bullshit her way out of paying and again, these two awesome old people are having none of it.  Tough shit, Cheryl, I guess the rules apply to you, so pack up your shit and fuck off.
Cheryl is stunned by this, I tell you.  Stunned.
"I turned to my tent, stunned.  I'd yet to meet a stranger on my trip who'd been anything but kind."
How soon she forgets Front-Desk Lady.
And then, because of course,
"I put on Monster and waved to the couple in the truck, unable to see whether they waved back."
Um, probably not.
She wanders out into the wilderness and god help us all, it's The Horse Flashback.
I should mention now that many of the people who hate this book as much as I do did not make it past Chapter Ten, and we're about to explore why.  It's when Cheryl tortures a horse to death.
I imagine that one of the reasons Cheryl took almost two decades to write about this is because what she did is totally illegal and punishable with prison time.  She waited until the statute of limitations ran out and then immediately went about making money off of her terrible crime by writing about it in her Oprah Book Club book.  She is an awful human being and if she died today, I would go to her funeral dressed as a clown and hand out horse-shaped balloon animals to everybody.
I also want to mention-- before we get into the dirty business of describing how she tortured an animal to death-- that if you type "Cheryl Strayed killed a horse" into the Google search engine, the very first post that pops up is an article from the Huffington Post entitled, "The One Part of 'Wild' That Still Makes Cheryl Strayed Wince," and *SURPRISE* IT IS NOT ABOUT TORTURING A HORSE TO DEATH, she's totally cool with that.  The part of "Wild" that makes her wince is from the movie adaptation where the screenwriter has her character having sex with two men in an alley.  Straight from the article:
“I never did have sex with two guys in an alley,” Strayed said, laughing. Alluding to the film’s need to get a point across quickly, she continued, “They had to be like ‘Okay, she’s a slut!’”

And then,

 "It’s the only moment in the movie that pushes her comfort zone, she said."


I hate her so much.

Oh, god.  Let's get this over with.

Her mom had a horse named Lady, and she loved that horse more than anything (probably more than she loved Cheryl, and for good reason).  After her mom died, Cheryl apparently forgot about Lady's existence because she's a selfish bitch.

"When I went home one day to visit Eddie [her stepfather] in early December nearly three years after my mother died, I was shocked by how thin and weak Lady had become."


Then this happens:

"When I visited that early December, I talked to Eddie about Lady's condition.  He was belligerent at first, telling me that he didn't know why the horses were his problem.  I didn't have the heart to argue with him about why, as my mother's widower, he was responsible for her horses."
Why IS he responsible? Oh, right, because Cheryl didn't give a shit.
Lady is clearly dying and Cheryl has two options: to have a vet come out and humanely put Lady down, or she could just shoot her.
Since Cheryl was "flat broke," undoubtedly due to her super serious heroin problem that I still don't believe for one minute, she decides to do the latter or, more specifically, she tells Eddie to do the dirty work.  Eddie apparently refuses because when Cheryl checks in "a few weeks later" (obviously, Lady's comfort and well-being are incredibly important to her), Lady is still alive and Cheryl has to force someone else to kill her.  She then tries to make more excuses and she can't even do that right:
"I didn't have money to pay for the veterinarian to come out and give her an injection, and even if I did, it was Christmas and I doubted he would come."

"...and even if I did?"  Wait a minute.  This is either just another example of Cheryl not understanding how words work or it's Cheryl accidentally admitting that she did have the money but is going to blame what she's about to do on Christmas.  If she genuinely didn't have the money, that sentence should have gone like, "I didn't have money to pay for the veterinarian to come out and give her an injection, and even if I'd HAD the money..."  She's either a liar or an idiot, and I have no tolerance for either.

Blah, blah, blah, she describes the temperature and the sky and shut the fuck up, and finally she makes her younger brother shoot Lady in the head.  The shot doesn't kill her, so Cheryl demands that he "shoot her again," and he does, three more times.  Lady still refuses to die and Cheryl keeps shouting, "Shoot her!  Shoot her!"  Her brother runs out of bullets and then Lady, with countless bullets pumped into her head, wobbles around, stumbles, topples over onto her side, "where she kicked her legs and flailed and twisted her neck and fought to rise again," and I can totally understand why people stopped reading this piece of shit book at this point.

Lady finally dies-- "Whether it had taken five minutes or an hour, I didn't know."  And then, because Cheryl Strayed is Cheryl Strayed, she and her brother have some stupid bullshit conversation about her mom and Lady and it's just as awful and absurd as you might imagine:

"'Mom can go to the other side now,' he said, looking into my eyes as if it were only the two of us in the entire world.  'That's what the Indians believe-- that when a great warrior dies you've got to kill their horse so he can cross over to the other side of the river.  It's a way of showing respect.  Maybe Mom can ride away now."


Cheryl then writes this big bag of bullshit sentence fragment that makes no fucking sense whatsoever:

"That the worst thing I'd ever done had been a healing instead of a massacre."


Cheryl Strayed, if you're reading this, I fucking hate you and I hope you die a slow, painful death by means of a horse stampede.  Fuck you.


  1. I hope, when they show her horse tat' in the movie, they include four prison tears under her eye representing the bullets it took for her to kill an already emaciated horse. For fuck's sake, she could find smack, dick , an attorney, and drive to east Jesus nowhere...but, she can't call a vet.

    I wonder if she told Paco her tale of animal cruelty?

    And, I think the camp hosts had every right to kick her mass out. She's not Reese Witherspoonfor crissakes.

    1. How was she able to save up over $3000 for all of her "gear," yet she couldn't manage to scrounge $200 for a vet. How.

      Since the internet doesn't understand the assignment at all, every fucking ad I see now is somehow related to Cheryl Strayed. You know that Cheryl and Reese are all BFF now, right? They're meant for each other.

    2. As much as Cheryl wants us to think she's a medical doctor by referring to the tat on her 'deltoid', she would have gained more MD street cred by doing a touch more research and referring to the location as 'lower deltoid where it meets the lateral triceps". (Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence.)

  2. Word! It makes no goddamn sense!
    Who vetted (pardon the pun) her story? Mama June?

    And, yes,....sadly Reese and Cheryl are beasties, apparently. I actually like Reese Witherspoon. At least she admits she's acting! But, not questioning the trail math, the animal cruelty, and how a waitress set aside $500 (for six months) a month do to a distance hike she first said she did on a whim with only two months prep is just poor fact checking.

    1. I wonder if you meant to say "besties" and your phone decided it had a better term...

  3. Roflol...hey, who are we to doubt the phone. Lol. If the REI boot fits, I say where it.... or, Chuck it off a ledge.

  4. I just saw the movie today, and the horse part was done in a way that made it very difficult to understand exactly what was happening, or when it had happened. She gets drunk with several younger guys (who all think she's awesome of course) and has a flashback, and ends up vomiting after remembering the horse's shooting. But they don't show the horse flailing around, just like 2 shots and blood spreading on the top of her tent (she's hallucinating I guess). Really, the movie only makes sense if you've read the book, but I'm glad I didn't. After reading what she *really* did, I want to hunt her down and strangle her too.

  5. As I said earlier, I made it to chapter 4 and a few days ago, I returned the damn book to the library. I started reading this blog at part one & I've reached this point (thank you so much for this blog - you are really a good writer & reading this is somehow cathartic). So...I just read the part about the horse. I really disliked cheryl before. Now, I hate this fucking bitch...this lying, narcissistic, fucking bitch. Oprah & Reese Witherspoon will be sorry someday.

    1. Cindi T, thank you, but I should point out that I am not a writer. I'm just a huge asshole who can string sentences together in a somewhat logical manner.

    2. News flash: that's all any writer is. You are, too a writer, and a very entertaining one at that. I SAY SO. Just look at all the haters who are enjoying this blog!

    3. Are you kidding me Califohioan? I have never laughed so hard and have enjoyed reading anything as much as this blog. Granted part of this is due to your amazing ability to help me shed the Strayed stink and make this a cathartic experience.

    4. In all humility, thank you so much.

    5. Cali, you are indeed a writer. It's not easy to make people laugh - yeah, it actually _is_ hard work - and you've provided us with drop dead laughter in what is essentially the longest book review I've ever read (and I'm not finished yet!). Your words have proved to be infinitely more entertaining and enlightening than Cheryl's work of fiction.

  6. First off, this site is addictive and your writing is truly entertaining. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    I haven't read this book and have no desire to now. This woman sounds like a truly awful human being. The horse story made my skin crawl. I keep reading these posts thinking I've read the worst of Cheryl's behavior, but no, it just seems to have no end. I'm astounded that this shit show was made into a movie and that people everywhere are raving about this book. I don't get it. It's kind of making me a bit ragey.

    On a random note that will surely veer off into many tangents; every year my husband and take our four kids to Georgia for vacation. We stay near Springer Mountain and spend some time near the start ( or maybe it's technically the end) of the AT. As a family we are in awe of people who hike the whole thing and we like to go into the information center that is at the base of the mountain and look at all the pictures of the people who have hiked it recently. My daughter and I read A Walk in the Woods last year and I loved it but now I'm wondering if that is all made up too. Please tell me it's not. Bill Bryson was so likable and he truly seemed disappointed in himself for not actually hiking the whole AT so I hope he isn't also a huge, fat liar Cheryl. I actually liked that some of his book was boring because it made me think, oh I bet this is just what hiking is like sometimes - really boring. Did you enjoy his book?

    1. I enjoyed it well enough, and you are correct, it did get boring at times. I don't believe Bill is a big liar like Cheryl. He didn't spend his whole book talking about himself and making outrageous mileage claims and having dramatic meltdowns every few paragraphs. And you're right-- he did seem genuinely disappointed in himself for not hiking the whole thing, which makes him seem like an honest and real person. I can't know anything for certain, but I'd believe Bill Bryson over Cheryl Strayed on just about anything.

  7. I have read several blogs and hundreds of 'Wild' comments and reviews, and Erin, you are the first person to notice (and document) that she blew off a ton of mileage just north of Sierra City. Following her through the mess of convoluted lies that she tells to make us believe she didn't skip most of this section is tricky, but since I live here I'm going to give it a whirl.

    She leaves Sierra City on July 2nd and, snow notwithstanding, the temperature is about 85 degrees. So, ya know, hot. But not to worry, at least Cheryl, of the heavy pack and lousy feet, only has to climb three thousand feet straight up over a largely south facing and open slope in the next seven miles, so... yeah. In spite of this, and stumbling and post-holing through another thirty-six miles of snow with a Volkswagen Beetle on her back, she finds herself a total of forty-three miles up trail, suddenly averaging over ten miles a day under some of the most adverse conditions of her hike so far.

    Well, that's bullshit, but I'll get back to that later. She now claims that she has been plopped out onto the Quincy/LaPorte Road (name given in guidebook, not her book) where the guidebook says it's a long day's walk to Quincy. Now here's where the wheels begin to fall off of her bullshit wagon. An SUV comes along offering to give her a ride to Packer Lake Lodge. First, I'm pretty sure no one in the history of the world has ever found themselves on that particular stretch of remote, obscure road on the way to Packer Lake Lodge, which is at the end of another unrelated stretch of remote, obscure road, separated by forty-five miles of open highway, offering a boatload of other options in between. But for the sake of I don't know what, let's say someone said that to Cheryl. Why would Cheryl take that ride to PLL?

    The Quincy/LaPorte Road is named that for a reason. IT GOES TO QUINCY BEFORE IT GOES ANYWHERE ELSE! So Cheryl is already in the Quincy that she ostensibly ends up in later in the day, but decides a massive backtrack (by her own admission) would be nice, to what, revisit a RUSTIC lodge a mile from where she was on the PCT several days ago? Well, she did get a sandwich out of the deal, so maybe...

    Nope, nope, nope. Here's what happened. The road that she describes as being forty-three miles uptrail is actually the road that crosses Packer Lake Saddle, TEN miles uptrail. Given everything we know about Cheryl at this point and the conditions on the trail, it makes perfect sense that she was averaging two and a half miles a day. And, it makes sense of her being at Packer Lake. The SUV gave her a ride one mile down the road to the lodge, end of story.

    Otherwise, this is what we have to accept. "Hi Christine, new friend, I just got a ride up here fifty miles from Quincy to, uh... score this sandwich. Do you think you can take me back fifty miles to Quincy since I'm, uh, done with the sandwich? NO,NO,NO. After achieving ten miles in four grueling days, Cheryl dragged her sorry ass into Packer Lake Lodge thinking this "hiking" the PCT thing is just not going to work, and so once again she hits the carefree highway.

    Will return to comment on the nonsense that is her time in and around Quincy, and to speculate on how she ended up with the University of California Berkeley t-shirt that she is seen wearing in Google Images and the movie, both with no explanation.

  8. "Cheryl Strayed, The Missing Days":

    Based on new information I'm going to have to slightly change my comment above, but not in Cheryl's favor. I have now read Greg's account of his time with Cheryl published on the Pacific Crest Trail Association's website (For what it's worth, Greg's real name is Roger.).

    In it he states that he and Cheryl stayed in a campground near Sierra City on July 3rd and started back on the trail the next morning, where I'm going to employ my power of extrapolation to call July 4th. Cheryl says she bailed on July 5th, four days and forty-three rugged miles out of Sierra City. These dates were taken from their journals, not arrived at via memory. For those paying attention, that's one night and ten miles on the trail before crying, "Wah! This is too hard!" and hitting the highway, instead of the four-day, forty-three mile Siberian Death March that she describes in the book.

    We really need to come up with a board game, maybe called "Cheryl Strayed from the Truth: Can You Prove How?!". It would come with a giant fold-out, three dimensional replica of the PCT and little flexible action figures of all the characters. They would need to be flexible for the part where our Babe gets Boned while Bent over a Boulder on a Beach in Brookings. Okay, I'll see myself out...

    1. Oh, fuck, I'd buy that game. What I'd truly love to see is Cheryl on a panel with those who have actually done the PCT. You know, if Oprah wasn't Oprah, she could have actually done something like that (an hour with Cheryl and actual hikers), instead of foisting this POS on her book club.

  9. She needs to go to prison for abandoning, neglecting, abusing, torturing, and murdering her mother's beloved horse. She is sadistic and doesn't know the meaning of love nor does she have the capacity for it. Vile selfish woman.

  10. "Cheryl learns that books the general public find entertaining are just pure garbage and then decides to smear this knowledge right in her mother's face because Cheryl is a huge fucking asshole."

    So you mean books like "Wild"?

  11. "Their (We're) seeing themselves in the Work" --from a short summary video on Strayed's website. One thing that I keep tripping on, and you've mentioned, her Lack of Pictures!! Someone so in love with herself. You're on a once in a lifetime journey and you choose condoms over film...makes sense though. Probably couldn't have afforded a second abortion. We know what she did when she couldn't pay for a veterinarian. After all this time, in her quiet moments with herself, does she believe her own lie...or just giggle in amazement that she got away with all of it?? Her video from her website...

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  13. I thought this horse incident was pretty inexcusable too. Showed an appalling level of lack of compassion for someone counting on compassion from others. One of the last things her mom said was just how much she loved that horse so please look out for her. If the horse was weak from lack of care then the solution is just start taking care of it. I've seen horses that looked skeletal flourish again when properly cared for. Of course, maybe it was ill but for a few hundred a vet could have seen the horse and if it were ill and they honest with the vet they just didnt have resources the vet would have painlessly euthanized the horse. I own horses and worked as a veterinary assistant. The care of a horse can be expensive but if a horse is ill and suffering and the owner says they just can't afford the care I know of no vet that wouldnt humanely euthanize and this is not tremendously expensive. Prices vary from area to area but under $300 typically. The body disposal is often the bigger expense but they had a body either way and their own property. If she could get money for drugs and money for her trip, she could have given this gentle creature a death that wasn't horrific and excruciatingly painful. The excuse they couldnt get a vet because it was Christmas is ridiculous brush off of responsibility. The horse had already been like this a long time and was surviving ok, a few more days to see a vet would have been far less suffering than the brutal attack it suffered at their hands. So awful.

  14. Thank you for your blog. SOOO entertaining. I was about halfway through the book and really struggling with the character ... didn't get to the scene with the horse and knowing it's coming - yeah - I'm done. My great professor is friendly with Cheryl - they appear at events regularly together - and he recommended this book to me for some reason. I almost feel insulted at this point. She really is a bit of an ungrateful tool.

    Thanks again ... you've saved me several hours which sadly will probably be spent watching Netflix rather than things I NEED to do ...

  15. I know I am really late to the party but I just had to interject something here. I grew up in the same area as Cheryl. I hate to even admit it, but I graduated with her. So yeah, I knew her when... What I also know is that at the time she would have horrifically killed her horse there were more than one lay-vet in the area. Specifically my stepfather for one. Had anyone done any research, or even made a few phone calls, any lay-vet would have been able to help put the horse down for little to no money. And it would have been in a more compassionate way. When I read this part of the story I wanted to scream. Growing up on a horse farm (my stepfather bought, healed and sold many a horse while I was growing up) I saw some very sick animals. Some he could save. Some he couldn't. But had someone from Cheryl's family had called around there was a good chance someone in the area would have mentioned my stepfather's name. He could have taken the horse off their hands LONG before it needed to be put down. And if there was nothing to be done for her he would have put her down in a much more compassionate manner than a bullet through the head. Which, btw, is not a good way to do it since they have very thick skulls.

    As for the rest of the book, all I can say is my BS meter flared more than once. I came upon this blog by chance and I'm so glad I'm not the only one who felt it was poorly contrived. But given that I know too many people we graduated with, including the fact I'm still in contact on FB with our English teacher, I haven't been able to really say anything in public. Everyone from 20+ years ago just LOVES what Cheryl has done. Bleck. Even though EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING she has written is about the same FUCKING thing. And the sympathy factor got her a good book deal and a movie.

    So thank you. Thank you so much for calling out the BS. I am enjoying the blogging more than you will ever know.