|Strayed hiking the PCT in 1995|
Miseryguts? Maybe. But honest, too. No-one writes about grief, pain, and the desperate need to feel better somehow, anyhow, like Strayed does. She really has seen it all - and from the other side she ploughs it back into her writing with ferocious eloquence, sympathy, and humility. In one vignette that encapsulates the human mess, Claire and Joshua pile their mother's belongings into boxes to remove them from Bruce's house. His new wife is moving in and they want all Teresa's possessions gone, uncontaminated. Objects jostle preposterously:
...a pair of scissors, a camera, a half-used bottle of Vick's Vapor Rub, and a collection of Johnny Cash CDs might be in one box; a salad spinner, their mother's ancient reading glasses, an unopened jumbo packet of sugar-free gum, and a lampshade in another. Claire refused to throw anything out...the gum was possibly the last pack of gum their mother had purchased.
We've all packed those boxes; Strayed's talent is to tell a story so real that we know we are not alone.