26 September 2011

Finding Evertt Ruess; David Roberts

Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness ExplorerFinding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer by David Roberts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If, like me, you know nothing about Everett Ruess, here's a quick intro: Everett was 17 in 1931 when he decided to travel throughout the Southwest, he made three trips and disappeared in 1934, leaving behind several diaries, paintings, woodcuts, poems and a mystery that's lasted over 70 years.

The majority of his childhood was conventional, the exception being his family's keeping of, and reading to each other, personal diaries. Given that this was the early 1910s and 20s, the family moved as Ruess' father's job required. By the late 20s, Everett had decided that he was not cut out for college and was more interested in traveling alone. His trips to the Southwest were conducted on a shoestring budget, sometimes trading woodcuts or paintings for food. He relied on burros and the kindness of the Dine and Mormon farmers, and his parents ability to send money.

In many of the letter and diary fragments he comes across as a self-absorbed brat, not caring about his effect on the land (burning wood from hogans or taking Anasazi relics) or his parents' finances. The vision he had of the Southwest may have been unique and he may have been a budding artistic talent, but the overly portentous writing bored me. It was also difficult to continually read phrases that pre-shadowed his disappearance and the search.

Still, this is perfect for naturalists or adventure readers looking for a follow up to Jon Krakauer's works.

ARC provided by publisher.

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