Arts & Culture News

Wild Author Cheryl Strayed Found Success with a Simple Mantra: Write Like a Motherfucker

In "The Love of My Life," her 2002 essay for literary journal The Sun, Cheryl Strayed is the 22-year-old woman who fell to her knees after seeing her mother dead in a hospital bed, then pressed those same bruised knees into a strange man a week later, unbeknownst to her devoted husband. She is the woman who numbed her grief with heroin and infidelity, then decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, a three-month journey for which she was sorely unprepared.

That essay laid the foundation for Wild, her 2012 novel about the journey. Strayed is an honest narrator, and we experience the emotional gut punches (the scene where Strayed calls out after a red fox, whispering, "Mom.") and physical changes (toenails falling off, hips chafing) along with her. This is not Eat, Pray, Love, as some have lazily compared. Strayed is not pining for some Italian beefcake while she eats gelato in a sunbeam. She is in the dirt; her oversized backpack, affectionately called "Monster," is a symbol of the burden she must carry, and ultimately shed.

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Audra Schroeder
Contact: Audra Schroeder