A young man named Christopher Knight literally disappears off the map in Maine and for 27 years he lives all alone in the forest without any other human contact. Knight reads voraciously. He listens to music. He communes with nature. But his life is hard in lots of ways. Many years he barely makes it through the cold winter. He survives by stealing from cabins and camps when the owners aren’t around. By the time he is finally caught he faces some 1000 charges of theft.
- After he was discovered, arrested and tried for his robberies Knight was reunited with his family. His mother and siblings wanted privacy, yet Finkel went ahead and told Knight’s story in a popular book. Was it right for him to do that? It is true that while Christopher was in prison for theft he replied to Michael Finkel’s request for an interview and that on a number of subsequent occasions he talked to Finkel about his three decades in the woods. But should Finkel have written the book when he knew it would draw added attention to a man who was uncomfortable with any kind of attention and when his family expressly requested privacy?
- I know there are people who are introverts. While others need social connections to thrive and learn and recharge…. introverts need to be alone. We have to be respectful of that but…… Christopher Knight was an educated man, an excellent worker, a creative thinker, an intelligent philospher of sorts, and a keen observer of nature. His choice to live in isolation means no one else benefitted from those gifts including his family.
The Stranger in the Woods is the March pick for the book club I belong to at the West Kildonan Library. We meet tonight. I will be curious to find out whether other people had the same thoughts I did and to discover what struck them about this very interesting book.