Friday, January 9, 2015

Part Thirty of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Fifteen, Part One: The Quaint Swiss Custom I've Never Heard Of

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

Part Thirty, Chapter Fifteen, Part One: The Quaint Swiss Custom I've Never Heard Of

We're now in Part Five of the book, entitled "Box of Rain," which is a title she stole from a Grateful Dead song.  Chapter Fifteen is also called "Box of Rain" because Cheryl is really good at repeating herself.

We start out with Cheryl just miles away from the Oregon border and as she's hiking, her very special I'll-never-ever-take-this-off POW bracelet gets caught on a branch, goes flying off into the wilderness and I can't believe I forgot to tell you-- she also lost her sacred Bob Marley t-shirt back in Chapter 13 after leaving it on a bush to dry and promptly forgetting about it-- so this is now at least the third instance of Cheryl littering in the wilderness: her boots, her t-shirt and now her bracelet and jesus christ, we should be able to validate her story just by following the trail of Cheryl debris she sprinkled all over the PCT.  Anyway, she loses the bracelet and because nothing can ever just be what it is, Cheryl has to be all Cheryl about it:

"It seemed absurd that I'd lose the bracelet at this very moment, a clear omen of trouble ahead."
Or maybe it means you're a careless shithead who enjoys littering in the wilderness.
Why does everything have to have some secret, special meaning.  Honestly.  She blames it on the universe because if we've learned anything so far, it's that nothing is ever Cheryl's fault.
She finally crosses into Oregon and signs the trail register:  "I made it!"  She passes more cows and does what she always does in such instances.
"'Hello, Oregon cows,' I called to them."

She camps for the night and starts reading J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians and where the fuck did that book come from, but she can't concentrate because all she can think about is arriving in Ashland.

"In Ashland there would be food, music, and wine, and people who knew nothing of the PCT."

First, I'm pretty sure people in Ashland are familiar with the PCT since, you know, IT'S ON THE PCT, and second, why should it be so exciting to be around people who supposedly won't know anything about the PCT?  Is it so Cheryl can lie her ass off about her fake hike and no one will be the wiser?

She's super stoked about the package waiting for her in Ashland because this was originally supposed to be her final stop on the trail, so instead of food and supplies, this package contains $250 in traveler's checks, her favorite jeans, a slim-fitting black T-shirt, a brand new black lace bra and matching panties and oh, god, just brace yourselves.  This is going to be a long, traumatizing chapter.
Cheryl strolls into Ashland the next day and finds out that Jerry Garcia has died.  Even though Cheryl isn't really a Grateful Dead fan, she makes a big to-do about it because of course she does.  She tries to explain how Kurt Cobain's death was a super big tragedy just so she can make it about herself--
"Kurt Cobain's death the year before had felt closer to me-- his sad and violent end a cautionary tale not only of my generation's excesses, but of my own as well."

--and GFY, Cobain's death had nothing to do with you, you stupid whore.  She continues,

"And yet Garcia's death felt bigger, as if it was the end of not just a moment, but an era that had lasted all of my life."

[Now, I hate to skip ahead, but I feel I should point something out.  That last quote can be found on page 240 of her stupid book.  You know what can be found on page 260 of the same stupid book?

"He kissed me hard and I kissed him back harder, like it was the end of an era that had lasted all of my life."

Sound familiar?  Or maybe even identical?  SHE'S SUCH AN AWESOME WRITER.]

Anyway, she gets to the post office and oh my god, her package is not there.  The woman at the post office doesn't care about this at all and has no time to deal with Cheryl's meltdown, so Cheryl "staggers outside, half blind with panic and rage" and tries to call the friend who was supposed to mail the package but the friend doesn't answer.

She decides to waste some time by checking out the co-op and once inside, she goes Full Cheryl in describing the air-conditioning, the pickles, the baguettes, the orange juice, the produce and every other little goddamned thing and why is it Cheryl has no problem describing civilization but can barely describe the trail?  Why do you think that is?  It's a real mystery.  Huh. 

Cheryl, who by her own admission is "dirty and smelly" at this point, decides to help herself to all the samples in the health and beauty section of the co-op, rubbing all kinds of fragranced lotions on herself as if that's going to solve the problem and then tries some lipstick on.  The sales lady comes over and instead of telling Cheryl to stop fouling up all the samples and ejecting her stank ass out of her store, she supposedly says,

"'That shade is nice on you.  It totally brings out the blue of your eyes.'"

and bullshit, that didn't happen, but of course it did because Cheryl is so beautiful.  She finally makes her way over to "the lemonade section" of the store and oh, darn, no Snapple.  She spends the last of her money on a non-Snapple lemonade and goes outside to drink it and pout about all the food she can't afford.  That's when Susanna from Switzerland shows up and I lose my mind.

Cheryl explains that she's hiking the PCT and Susanna takes her hand, saying,

"'We call what you're doing the pilgrim way.  If you'd like, I would rub your feet.'"

and WHAT THE FUCK DID THAT LADY JUST SAY.  Now, knowing what we know about Cheryl's insane way of dealing with dialogue when it comes to people with whom she is unfamiliar, I guess we should be proud of her for not making Susanna talk like,

(I know Sweden and Switzerland are different, but this is Cheryl we're talking about.)
but still, what the fuck did this lady just say.  She said she wants to rub Cheryl's feet.  Seriously.
"'I want to.  It would be my honor.  It is the Swiss way.'"

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, how's that?  I know I have a few readers in Switzerland-- would one of you be so kind as to tell us all if this is something you regularly do in your country?  Do you just rub the feet of random whores?  Is this really "the Swiss way?"  Thank you in advance.

Susanna from Switzerland runs into the co-op, apparently squeezes a gallon of foot lotion out of one of the samples and returns to rub Cheryl's feet and say crazy things.

"'Your feet, they are very strong,' said Susanna.  'Like those of an animal.  I can feel their strength in my palms.  And also how they are battered.  I see you miss the toenails.'"

Oh, god.  As if this isn't bad enough, Susanna continues.

"'The spirits told me to do this... When I saw you, the spirits whispered that I had something to give you...'"

And what the fuck ever.  This never happened, the end.  That's all I can deal with today.


  1. My daughter and I have both seen the movie and read the book. She found your blog and we are both HYSTERICAL. Your blog is better than both. We cannot wait for your final installments of the book and the promised movie review!

    1. I'm so terribly sorry that you and your daughter read the book and saw the movie. My sincerest condolences.

      I'm so glad you're both enjoying this blog! Welcome, and thank you for reading!

  2. I am so terribly, terribly glad that this unfortunate incident did not make it into the movie. I think I would have vomited all over the seat in front of me if someone had massaged that nasty-ass woman's feet while telling her "The spirit made me do this."

  3. I´m from the south of Germany, border to Switzerland, and rubbing the feet of a hiker is NOT a swiss custom. In fact many of the swiss are very experienced alpinist and every swiss person i know understands snow. Hikers like Cheryl, who walk through the Alps completely unexperienced, with wrong sized boots, would be exactly the people they don´t like and make fun of. Not only because they don´t listen to the advices of the locals or more experienced, they often not even check the weather forecast and end up getting rescued by helicopter which costs lots of money. I don´t think the book is for people that actually enjoy hiking or real literature (the books that cheryl is claiming to read but failing to produce). It´s for soccer moms that love to watch oprah. And she mixing something up. The pilgrims way shes referring to is the trail of st. james which connects different parts of europe with santiago de compostela in spain. And even on that trail rubbing the feet is not normal. It could be some 100 years ago, but in Switzerland ive never seen or heard anything like that. Also most of the swiss are very down to earth people that won´t tell you about spirits whatsoever. Thanks a lot for your entertaining blog. I´m thankfull that i don´t have to actually read the book, while I feel pity for the students of cheryls writing class. Excuse me for my bad english. It´s not my native tongue.

    1. Hybride Maschine, thank you so much for responding! I had a feeling this was something crazy Cheryl was making up.

      Thank you for reading and I'm so glad that you're enjoying this. Do not worry about any errors in your grammar-- you speak English better than Cheryl.

      Cheers, friend! Thank you again.

  4. I have to seriously wonder about Cheryl's sanity at this point in the book. Did you notice all of the parallels to Jesus she has worked into this book. From the bits of, literal, bread and wine she the adoration and mystery she claims to evoke from others. People magically seem to be "called" or "directed" (her words) to help her. She even walked barefoot through a desert fer crissake! Now, we have a mystery Swede who washes her feet ala' Mary Magdelene or some shit? I really hope there isn't a convenient cave in the next chapter or she's going to die and emerge from behind a boulder three days later! It's a miracle!

    I read this book way back when it first came out and have been rereading with you. No one should ensure such pain alone.

    I keep coming back to the sheer hubris of her attitude. Even her "humble" is fake and that's the issue. Read any trail diary and you see people stripped down to their barest fears and insecurities. Cheryl isn't humbled, she's emboldened and celebrated by people who seem to be nothing more than character's in her imagination. That's crazy! I hiked a bit of the PCT today, as part of a friend's son's Eagle Scout project and the topic of Wild came up. Every boy in the troop thought her book and the movie was fiction. When I asked the two most vocal"why?", they said, "well, it's too perfect." Hiking is tough. For a woman with no experience and so little planning, there's not enough of what you'd expect in terms of being overwhelmed by the trail itself and the act of long distance hiking. The pack is too heavy but she carries it. Tell shoes are too small, but she pushes on in superhuman ways without mention of infection or true injury. The money runs out and there's always someone with a wallet. It's too perfect.

    1. OH MY CHERYL, you're totally right.

      Does this mean we can nail her to a two-by-four?

    2. I think it should be knotty pine, 2x4s. :)
      Maybe turning water into Snapple is the real miracle?

  5. OK First of all thank you for this blog! When I read Cheryls book, I had the feeling that something is fishy about her story more than once, so I googled the bits that didn't make sense to me and found your blog ;)

    I AM SWISS, and I can assure you that this load of bs Cheryl describes in her book is NOT a Swiss custom at all and it never has been, EVER! Just like Hybride Maschine mentioned above, the Swiss are very reserved and private people, and to touch a stranger this way in public would never ever occur to me or anyone that I know!
    Also Swiss persons in general to not believe in spirits and the likes, and even if, good luck finding anybody who would talk about this kind of stuff openly with a stranger. DOES NOT HAPPEN.

    Also, no Swiss person ever believed in a 'pilgrim way', sounds very much like the St. Jacobs way in Spain (not sure if this is the English name) and this has nothing to do with Switzerland whatsoever.

    Also as per Hybrid Maschine above, Swiss persons know about snow, weather conditions and how to prepare a hike for gods sake, when I read how naive Cheryl approached this whole project, I wanted to slam my head against a wall in disbelief. It's a miracle she made it out alive (if she ever really was there...*cough*)

    This is probably the most ridiculous scene in the whole book. I'm glad this didn't make it in the movie then (I have yet to see it!)

    Anyway, onwards to continue reading your blog, thank you for the Lolz!! ;)

  6. What have you done? You spent a lot of time breaking down this uneducated woman's attempt at sharing her story. So what if she doesn't know how to write?
    She's not a pro long distance hiker like you. You definitely don't make things looks better by spewing such hate and contempt for someone I belive you don't know. The story is about someone almost giving up on life. Then, deciding to face some demons. I look at it like the 4th step in most 12 step programs. Taking a searching and Fearless moral inventory of ones self. Including going over the past and present resentments. So, the real question I have for you is, what about your life makes you compelled to break down someone else?

    1. Cheryl Strayed has a BA in English from the University of Minnesota and a graduate degree in fiction writing from Syracuse University, so I don't know exactly what you mean when you say she's "uneducated."

      "So what if she doesn't know how to write?"

      I'll tell you what, Jason. This asshole *teaches writing classes* and she charges upwards of $3000 for her shitty writing advice. That's what.

      Finally, wtf is with all you Strayed fans and your insistence that there must be something wrong with me/my life? I HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT A BOOK. Don't like it? GFY.

    2. You are intitled to your opinion. But 39 part breakdown of a book?
      When I say uneducated, the girl in the story wasn't educated at the time of the story. Mid 90's I'm guessing.. When people spew such hate and animosity towards a particular person, it usually does have something to do with their own defects of character. Finally, just because you have an opinion,doesn't mean you are correct.

    3. Opinions don't work that way, Jason. Opinions cannot be *right* or *wrong* because they are OPINIONS. If you said something like, "Bananas are the best fruit ever," I could not point a finger at you and yell, "NO, YOU'RE WRONG," because you would have simply been stating your personal opinion about the awesomeness of bananas. I might *disagree* with you, but doing so would in no way make your opinion *incorrect*, because your statement would still ring true *for you*. See how that works? Let me go ahead and correct your statement for you:

      "Finally, just because you have an opinion doesn't mean I have to agree with you."

      Good for you, Jason. No one said you had to agree with me.

      Also, I am by no means the first person to take a good deal of time to rip apart a stupid book. Someone did it with "Fifty Shades of Grey" and someone else did it with "Eat, Pray, Love." Do those people ALSO have "defects of character," Dr. Walston? You sound like an asshole.

      Incidentally, as the author of this blog, I am notified by email whenever someone leaves a comment on here. You, on the other hand, receive no notifications when someone has responded to your dumb comments. This means you actually have to keep checking this site to see if I've bothered to acknowledge your idiocy. That sounds like you have a lot of time on your hands. Maybe you should start your own blog called "I Have A Giant Boner For Cheryl Strayed" and you can type out all the grammatically incorrect statements you want about how you think Strayed is totes amazballs and how she's such an inspiration and how she gives you a big ol' quivering case of The Feels.

      Please stop saying things. You're embarrassing yourself.

      Hugs and kisses,

    4. I actually get notified when you respond. I'm not embarrassed in least bit. I just find it hard to believe that people such as yourself resort to name calling when called out on. You rip into me because I happen to disagree with how you shame bash someone. How is that for idiocy?
      Didn't anyone ever teach you, " Have nothing nice to say, Don't say anything at all" ? I'm really not an educated person at all on paper. But, I do know right from wrong. Not everyone writes as well as Homer or the likes. But, that doesn't keep bitch ass people like you from ruining the good faith people have in society. Like you said, other books get broke down too. Those people who broke them down have no life either. Keep drinking the Kool Aide out there in Comiefornia and continue to be a hateful negative, Basic Bitch and stick to Fashion. Because you don't know what a good story is. I never heard of Cheryl Strayed before two nights ago. If Hollywood thought it was good enough for a movie then your bashing is null and void. You can piss and moan over the overtly little semantics of the book, movie and person responsible for it. But, at the end of the day, I bet Cheryl Strayed is a happy camper with the money she made from her story.
      (Pun Intended) Did you submit a story sometime and it get shot down? As for you jumping my character, you don't know me from Adam. And I have a wonderful life with my family and friends. I'm truly blessed. I have the three things needed most by anyone. A roof over my head, a pantry full of food and clothes on my back. Anything else extra is a blessing and should be treated as such.
      As for me sounding like an asshole, I'm the most loyal, looking out, respecting, and caring person you'll ever meet. But, I will defend right from wrong to a fault. If I see someone or something wrong, and I can do something about it, I will.
      If speaking from my heart makes me an asshole, so be it. No offense taken on me.

    5. I changed my mind. Please keep saying things. This is entertaining as fuck.

      First of all, Saint Jason, did you seriously just try to give me the "if you don't have anything nice to say" lecture and then proceed to call me a bitch? Good job, stupid. Looks like you don't understand your own trite advice.

      "If Hollywood thought it was good enough for a movie then you bashing is null and void." Oh, okay. Let me go ahead and make a list of what I assume are your favorite movies:

      1. Wild
      2. Showgirls
      3. Battleship Earth
      4. Gigli
      5. From Justin to Kelly
      6. Glitter
      7. The Love Guru
      8. Norbit
      9. Catwoman
      10. Anything starring Tom Green



      To answer your question, no, I never submitted a story and "got shot down." Why must you idiots assume the reason I hate Cheryl Strayed is because I'm in some way jealous of her? I hate her because she's a shitty writer and a liar. Is that so hard to understand?

      Go ahead and say more stuff, Jason. All you're doing is entertaining me.

    6. Sigh. Ofcourse you are jealous right? Any noble person, with a shred of dignity who finds the fact this liar made millions duping people, a liar who is touted as a person of virtue by those dupes, obviously is jealous. Or, I prefer righteously fucking incredulous and acutely dissapointed society finds value in this garbage.

    7. "You definitely don't make things looks better by spewing such hate and contempt for someone I belive you don't know"

      Califohioan has made a hilarious, readable fun blog out of CS's narcasstic drivel. I love this blog. SO She has made something great out of pile of crap. and I thank her for it.

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  8. Oh please could you start a Really Bad Book Club and tell us what the next one will be so we can ALL READ IT TOGETHER as a FAMILY?

    This blog has brought me so many much-needed laughs during kind of a bleak time in my life. (I'M SO PROFOUNDLY SHATTERED, YO.) All we need is a crow's feather and a good Swiss-way foot-washing and Cheryl could call it a symbol of filling my void with the soothing waters of your blog during my yellow blazing pilgrim way through the Valley of the Shadow of ... HORRIFIC HORSE DEATH SOMEBODY BLEACH MY BRAIN FOR THE LOVE OF ALL RUTHLESS BITCH GODS PLEEEEEAZZE DO IT NOW!


    Love you. Love this blog. This is your calling. The spirits told me. So next book please! ;)

  9. oh yes I'd love to see 50 shades of grey get the Califohioan treatement!

    1. Two and a half years too late to the game, having just read the book. I'm not sure how many of you still check in here, but I absolutely concur that a "Really Bad Book Club" as narrated by Cali would be a book club worth joining!

      Thanks for the entertaining review Cali, and to all for the amusing comments, it's really made my lazy Saturday :)

  10. I’m here even later than you, Tracey! This blog has kept me *so* very entertained over the past week. I just read “Wild” and at first was like “wowza-5 stars” (on Goodreads). Then a day later, knocked it down to 4, and started googling because I had some doubts about the story. I know this may be mean, but once I saw her picture, which I thought WILDLY (lolz) contrasted with her description of herself and everyone else’s apparent animal magnetism to her, I was like okay, this cannot all be nonfiction. Thus, down the wormhole I went... thank you for that, Cali... assuming you still get notifications :)