book beginnings on Friday: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I confess I’m a little surprised that I have finally gotten around to this one. I think I had developed the impression that this was one I could skip, despite public uproar. But my self-study of current creative nonfiction won’t let me abstain any longer. In fact, these opening paragraphs (plus a few) were the focus of a workshop I took recently, so there you are.

And they are a fine few first lines.

The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California. Moments before, I’d removed my hiking boots and the left one had fallen into those trees, first catapulting into the air when my enormous backpack toppled onto it, then skittering across the gravelly trail and flying over the edge. It bounced off of a rocky outcropping several feet beneath me before disappearing into the forest canopy below, impossible to retrieve. I let out a stunned gasp, though I’d been in the wilderness thirty-eight days and by then I’d come to know that anything could happen and that everything would. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t shocked when it did.

My boot was gone. Actually gone.

I clutched its mate to my chest like a baby, though of course it was futile. What is one boot without the other boot? It is nothing. It is useless, an orphan forevermore, and I could take no mercy on it. It was a big lug of a thing, of genuine heft, a brown leather Raichle boot with a red lace and silver metal fasts. I lifted it high and threw it with all my might and watched it fall into the lush trees and out of my life.

I love how communicative these opening paragraphs are, how much we learn of the narrator and the setting and her personality.

Who am I to tell you anything new about the much-discussed Wild? I don’t know; we will wait and see, together. Stay tuned. I’m listening to the audio version, by the way, which is good so far. I hope I can keep up the pace a little, is all. Maybe Wild will be the book to force me to listen! Happy Friday, friends.

One Response

  1. […] a divorce and a heroin habit. The chronology jumps around: we first see her late in her hike, when she loses her hiking boots; we then flash back to learn much of her history: her childhood, close relationship with her […]

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