Sunday, February 28, 2010

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: Jon Krakauer - Author of “INTO THE WILD”

Welcome to Up Close and Personal. Once a week, on a Sunday, a favorite author, journalist will be featured as ‘Favorite of the Week”. The article will give them more exposure and publicity about their recent work.

This week we choose Jon Krakauer. He is an editor of the Modern Library Exploration series, a writer and mountaineer, well-known for outdoor and mountain-climbing writing. His father introduced him to mountaineering as an 8-year-old.

After graduating from college in 1977, he spent three weeks by himself in the wilderness of the Stikine Icecap region of Alaska and climbed a new route on the Devils Thumb, an experience he described in Eiger Dreams and in Into the Wild. In 1992, he made his way to Cerro Torre in the Andes of Argentine Patagonia -- a sheer, jagged granite peak more typical of those found in the Himalayas or Pacific Rim and considered to be one of the most difficult technical climbs in the world.

Mr. Krakauer's popularity as a writer came from being a journalist for Outside magazine. He received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious award intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment in 1999." His writing has also appeared in Smithsonian, National Geographic Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Architectural Digest.

He is the author of Into the Wild which was published in 1996 and became a bestselling non-fiction book about the adventures of Christopher McCandless. The novel is an expansion of Jon Krakauer's 9,000-word article, "Death of an Innocent", which appeared in the January 1993 issue of Outside magazine.

The book was adapted into a 2007 movie of the same name. "Into the Wild ," the film, debuted in 2007 starring Academy award-winner and Tony winner, Marcia Gay Harden, Emile Hirsch, Kristin Stewart, best known for playing Bella Swain in Twilight paid tribute to this film under the direction of Two time Academy Award winner, producer, Sean Penn.

Sean Penn, is a two-time Academy Award winner for his roles in Mystic River and Milk, as well as the recipient of a Golden Globe Award for the former and a Screen Actors Guild Award for the latter.

In the story, Chris McCandles, top student and athlete has excelled with nearly all A’s in his class. He says that he thinks his grades are good enough to get into Harvard Law School. His parents couldn’t be more proud of him and offered to give him how ever much money he needs for school and buy him a new car. To Chris, there is nothing wrong with his current car and it just seems like it would be another access material object.

With school finished, Chris decides that it is time to go out of his comfort zone and really explore the world. At the age of twenty-three he gave away his worldly possessions. After graduating in 1990 from Emory University, Chris McCandless ceased communicating with his family, gave away his savings of approximately $24,000 to Oxfam International an organizations working with over 3,000 partners in around 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

Chris began traveling, later abandoning his car and burning all the money in his wallet. He ventured out across America on a two-year journey and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wildersness, with little food and equipment, hoping to live a period of solitude. So many things in society disgust him, that he figures that he best thing to do is get away from it, at least for awhile and flips his lifestyle upside down.

Chris McCandless died in a wilderness area in the state of Alaska. Jon Krakauer concluded in his book that Chris McCandless died from eating the seed pods of Hedysarum alpinum, commonly known in Alaska as the wild potato, which supposedly contained a toxic alkaloid that led to his starvation.

Into the Wild is a truly beautiful book that grabs you by surprise. It also tells you the danger and loneliness that someone faces when people aren’t around. Living freely and with an independent mind is how the true treasures in life are revealed.

Jon Krakauer gave 20 percent of his royalties to Mr. & Mrs. McCandless, who in turn established a foundation in their son's name “Christopher Johnson McCandless Memorial Foundation.” The money has found its way, via Christian charities, to such far-flung locations as an orphanage in Cambodia. They want to reach out to children and help them and their families."

Jon Krakauer's book attained the status of a classic, it became required reading in many secondary schools and Outward Bound–style programs. Billie McCandles says she's received scores of letters from students, and she answer every one of them.

His latest book “Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman” is about an athlete, professional football player, soldier, the NFL player who gave his life for his country.

In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan.

In the novel, Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer draws on Pat Tillman’s journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to render an intricate mosaic of this driven, complex, and uncommonly compelling figure as well as the definitive account of the events and actions that led to his death. Before he enlisted in the army, Tillman was familiar to sports aficionados as an undersized, overachieving Arizona Cardinals safety whose virtuosity in the defensive backfield was spellbinding. With his shoulder-length hair, outspoken views, and boundless intellectual curiosity, Tillman was considered a maverick.

America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell” —and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers.

Jon Krakauer's new novel Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, is now available in bookstores and online!

Photo of writer-director, Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer in front of the bus Chris McCandless used as his Alaska base camp taken by Alaskan wilderness veteran, Roman Dial.

To learn more about Jon Krakauer, please visit his website.
To purchase Jon Krakauer’s book, please visit AMAZON and Barnes & Noble.

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