Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Stranger In The Woods

I won a copy of The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

I don't usually read and review non-fiction works, but The Stranger in the Woods caught my eye as a survival oriented book. I did enjoy the book. It is well written, informative, and allows the reader to make their own value judgments.

The Stranger in the Woods is the story of Christopher Knight (no not Peter Brady of the Brady Bunch) aka the Hermit who lived off the grid for almost thirty years in the woods of Maine.

Author Michael Finkel was able to earn the trust of this recluse who really just wanted to be left alone. Mr. Knight survived by stealing from neighboring summer cabins.

The author goes into some exploration of the psychological aspect of Knight's behavior presenting various suppositions of what, if any, psychological disorder may be at work here. Again, no authoritative diagnosis is given (the book would have lost all credibility with me if it had).

The Stranger in the Woods does give an interesting peek into human behavior, not only from the subject, but also from his many victims. It shows that in this case, as it is often with many situations, there are no simple answers, no one size fits all explanation. Which leads me to a bit of self revelation here.

I am a retired psychotherapist. Although I never dealt with this particular situation, I did regularly deal with complex human situations. This is why I don't normally read such works. Basically my response is: Been there, done that. I don't share this to diminish The Stranger in the Woods, it is a well written and fair presentation of the situation. For me personally, the story made me sad, the emotions this man had to deal with throughout his life are heartbreaking. Setting aside for a moment the illegality of his acts, he was actually dealing with his personal needs pretty well. But of course, we can't set aside the illegal acts.

So, taking into account personal and professional biases, The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel is an excellent book which can be enjoyed on several levels of complexity; ranging from simple survival adventure to deep issues involving mental health and the human behavior spectrum. I do recommend it to readers who want to explore such themes. Enjoy!


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