sign up for Outside+, ">,"renderIntial":true,"wordCount":350}"> The Wild Truth, the new memoir by Carine McCandless, is rough going at times" /> sign up for Outside+, ">,"renderIntial":true,"wordCount":350}"> The Wild Truth, the new memoir by Carine McCandless, is rough going at times" />

INTO THE WILD CHRISTOPHER MCCANDLESS

An explosive memoir von Carine McCandless provides new einzelheiten about a toxic family atmosphere that drove produziert brother zu embark on ns famous und fatal search immortalized by Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild




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The brutal Truth, the new memoir von Carine McCandless, ist rough going punkt times. The book startseite many years and a lot of ground, und much des it zu sein emotionally powerful an a hopeful way, including new einzelheiten that Carine offers around what the late Christopher McCandless was like as a brother. (Short answer: loving und protective.) however this family background features a frighten amount des toxic behavior, most des it comes from Carine's and Chris’s parents, Walt and Billie McCandless. Carine defines them as a pair who, punkt their best, were great providers and fun, caring people. But punkt their worst, she writes, they were cruel and abusive, und this side of them was on display all too frequently when ns kids were farming up bei El Segundo, California, and, later, Annandale, Virginia. 

According kommen sie Carine, Walt was a violent bully that drank heavily and sometimes flew right into rages that finished with whippings und beatings weil das his wife and children. Billie was die primary victim, Carine writes, yet she was deshalb a victimizer, belittling and betraying both kids hinweisen crucial junctures. A vivid example arisen a woche after Carine i graduated from high school in 1989, wie man she came residence from a date just before a household curfew. Walt, she writes, was waiting weil das her at the door, intoxicated, und he jerked herstellung violently into die house. 

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Chris and Carine McCandless external their Annandale, Virginia, home. (Carine McCandless family Collection)

“My feet crossed over ns threshold without poignant it,” she writes, “my sandals fallout’s to the floor as he lifted me von the neck und shoulders, repeatedly slamming me against the wall. A deep, fierce roar escaped ihm as he threw me onto the couch and trapped me under his weight.” Walt soon let Carine go, but notfall before placing his hands around her throat and calling her a “fucking bitch.” Billie was away that night, punkt a household beach house in Maryland. Carine says that when she gott Billie on the phone und told produziert what had actually happened, her mother said: “You understand what, Carine? i think you’re a lie bitch.”

The book so explores in great einzelheiten another McCandless family members drama: the fact that Chris und Carine were illegitimate. Bei the early on 1960s, when Walt was working weist Hughes Aircraft bei southern California, he was married zu a woman named Marcia, through whom he ultimately had six children. Billy worked weist Hughes together a secretary, und she und Walt started having an affair. Zum years, Walt retained two households: one zum Marcia und her kids, one for Billie, Chris, and Carine. Chris was born kommen sie Billie an 1968, only three month after Marcia had offered birth zu a 5th child, a boy called Shannon. Quinn McCandless, Walt and Marcia’s 6th child, was born in 1969. Carine, the youngest des Walt’s eight children, was born zu Billie an 1971. Walt and Billie lastly married a couple of years after ~ Marcia divorced Walt an 1972.

Du schaust: Into the wild christopher mccandless

This 2nd family proved to be a godsend for Carine end the lang haul—she’s close v them still—but ns legacy of abuse und deception weighed heavily on Chris, and one of the steering points des The grausam Truth is that his famous, ultimately fatal journey des adventure und discovery was motivated in large part über a desire kommen sie escape his parents, a design template that wollen be familiar kommen sie anyone who saw Sean Penn’s film version von Into ns Wild, released in 2007. Yet Carine’s new book fleshes out ns causes des Chris’s action with much more detail und impact. “People think they understand our story because they know how his ended,” she writes, “but they nothing know how it all began.” 

Finally, die book includes another fascinating piece des backstory, unknown until now: Carine said Jon Krakauer, author of 1996’s best selling Into die Wild, about Walt and Billie’s flaws wie he was researching his book. At die time, Carine wasn’t ready zu go public with this information, und she request Krakauer zu keep the part of the story private. An a foreword kommen sie The grausam Truth, he says that honoring this promise was no problem—journalists keep die info off die record all die time. Bei addition, the writes: “I shared Carine’s desire kommen sie avoid causing undue pain kommen sie Walt, Billie, and Carine’s siblings from Walt’s zuerst marriage.”

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(Clockwise indigenous bottom left) Carine McCandless und her daughter Christiana, Shelly McCandless, Robin Wright, Sean Penn, Shawna McCandless, und Emile Hirsch on the South Dakota movie set von Into die Wild bei the summer von 2006. (Carine McCandless family Collection)

Krakauer deshalb thought human being would be able to grasp, native “indirect clues” bei his narrative, the Chris’s habits during his final years was explained von “the volatile dynamics” of his upbringing.

“Many reader did recognize this, together it turn out,” Krakauer writes. “But countless did not. A gewächs of human being came away from analysis Into die Wild without grasping why kris did what he did. Lacking explicit facts, castle concluded that he was merely self-absorbed, unforgivably cruel zu his parents, holy spirit ill, suicidal, and/or witless.”

The grausam Truth will be published on november 11, and what remains kommen sie be seen is how Walt und Billie respond kommen sie a arbeit that purports kommen sie lay whatever bare und could be very damaging kommen sie their reputations. They oase made only one blanket public statement deswegen far, bei response kommen sie a inquiry from ABC’s 20/20 that they comment zum a segment about The grausam Truth the aired on november 7. 

“After a briefe review of its contents and intention, us concluded that this fictionalized writing has absolutely nothing to do through our lovely son, Chris, or his character,” lock wrote. “The whole unfortunate event in Chris’s life 22 year ago is about Chris und his dreams—not a spiteful, hyped up, attention-getting story around his family.” Walt and Billie decreased a inquiry from Outside to comment further on ns book.

In advance von The grausam Truth’s release, Carine McCandless spoke through Outside editorial manager Alex Heard about the what, why, und why jetzt of a memoir that seems destined kommen sie arrive with a bang. 

Readers wollen be shocked über the abuse you describe in the book, which is very frightening. What was it choose living v this, und why did you decide it was time to tell people what yes, really happened?My hope is that this new info about a an extremely well-known story ist going kommen sie be helpful to people, und eye-opening. I want to empower rather who face tough circumstances, specifically domestic violence. My allude was notfall to villainize my parents in any way, shape, or form. People don’t discover from villains. Mine point ist to humanize them, so that people kann sein learn from the situation.

I nothing like zu use the word “expose.” This is just die truth, ns information, ns answers zu all ns “why” questions that have been lingering about why kris felt the way he did, why he left die way that did, and what pushed er to ns extreme. 

What kind of reaction are sie getting from your extended family—the sons and daughters that Walt had with Marcia? It’s important to acknowledge that, while all my siblings were supportive of me and gave me your trust and respect zum why ich felt ich needed zu do this, there to be a couple who wished i wasn’t doing it. Because it’s tough having your family in the publicly eye deshalb much, und then gift thrust right into it again. Ich really want it zu be clear how much i worked, an the writing von this, to respect mine family’s space and their lull level. I worked very hard not to speak zum anyone who chose not to schutz their voice directly existing outside of the facts, consisting of my siblings, und I so was careful notfall to speak for Chris, uneven it’s miscellaneous he straight said to me or wrote zu me in a letter.

There are three various episodes in the book bei which Chris, you, and you and Marcia’s youngsters together try kommen sie confront Walt and Billie—either über letter, e-mail, or in person—and schutz a healthy, if confrontational, discussion around their behavior and why sie think that needs zu change. Every time, they give a sort of flippant, dismissive response, i beg your pardon doesn’t suggest that they lakers much need to self-assess. Oase they read the book, und do you oase any feeling yet des how lock reacting?My parental were sent a copy von the publication ahead von time, because i did want zu allow them, through all due respect, die opportunity to respond however they wished to. And I didn’t desire them to be blindsided, you know, von the media or in bei e-mail.

Have you heard anything about how they’re taking it?Nothing has kommen sie directly zu me. I don’t want kommen sie speak zum Walt and Billie, but I’ll nur tell freundin what i personally expect. Ich think their background has bezeichnen that denial would be an extremely likely. My mother has actually told me in the previous that, because of her and my dad’s religious beliefs, die slate has actually been clear all clean, and that the events von our past nur don’t matt anymore—they’re non-existent. However I believe honesty zu sein imperative bei the process des healing from family turmoil and tragedy. An the book, ich write of having raw and selfish optimism, holding out a slim hope the removing the final masks native my parental might carry upon them part relief and allow some healing in ~ my family. This zu sein certainly notfall my expectation, yet again, ich want to be respectful and not speak weil das them.

And, obviously, sie can’t try zu predict what they’ll do.I don’t intend it zu be a pleasant situation. But over die years, i’ve really kommen sie to feel that i did a disservice to Chris und my prolonged family—maybe even kommen sie my parents—by enabling these dinge to be buried und to manifest as misconceptions around Chris.

I also want to make it clear that I oase the highest respect zum Jon Krakauer, that did a remarkable job writing Into ns Wild. Ich realized when ich was writing my publication what a challenging task ich put on er when ich shared a last of die struggles and details about the family dysfunction bei order for him kommen sie better recognize Chris. But i made er promise—before ich let him read Chris’s letters, before i told him these things—that that wouldn’t expose any of it bei the book. He had actually such high integrity an doing that, and I excellent him zum it.

A key moment in your memoir comes around ns time von Chris’s graduation from Emory University an 1990. He tells you he’s going zu allow your parents to fool themselves into believing that their dysfunctional connection with him is stabilizing. Yet then that tells freundin what he really has bei mind, an a letter the you’re sharing zum the first time in your book: “I’m going zu completely knock lock out von my life … i’m going kommen sie divorce them as my parents.” und you do it clear that, wie Chris set a course like that, he stuck with it.Yes, that’s right.

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Chris, Walt, Billie, und Carine weist dinner after ~ his graduation indigenous Emory University bei May 1990. (Carine McCandless family Collection)

You so emphasize the Chris had a sense of adventure hinweisen a an extremely young age, a love of nature, und that he was drawn to Alaska über the books he liked as a boy. Have you ever before thought around whether—without the catalyst of ihm wanting kommen sie get away from her parents—he would schutz gone off hike anyway? I think kris would oase been in adventurer and drawn to natur no matte what. I think the was just innate. There room a last of human being who walk off und do too much adventures, but the difference zu sein that they permit someone understand where they’re going.

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Chris was a smart and reasonable young man, yet he was also a young man. Indigenous conversations I’ve had actually with Jon, i know that he, his friends, und fellow mountaineers remember when they to be young und how many times they came out of a situation where they virtually didn’t make it the end alive. It could seem reckless kommen sie them now, wie man they’re older, wiser, und more experienced. However at ns time their boldness could be blinding, or probably that was the point.

Because des Chris’s childhood situation, that felt this need to push himself to extremes and prove something. Dinge came pretty easily to Chris—and von that i mean he was smart and he was good at everything the tried kommen sie do—so that had to up die ante a bit und make jene harder. Chris thought firmly the if freundin knew precisely how ns adventure was going to turn out, it wasn’t really in adventure. That understood the risks he was taking, und they to be calculated, und there was a reason for it.

But to answer ns crux des your question: People ask me all die time if i blame Walt and Billie weil das Chris’s death. I don’t. Chris made certain decisions und placed himself in that perilous situation. He so accepted responsibility for his mistakes, and accepted his fate bravely at ns end. Ich do, however, host Walt und Billie accountable zum Chris’s disappearance und for us not knowing whereby he was. That was absolutely related kommen sie his emotion a need kommen sie escape und disconnect.

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Walt und Billie with Chris after his high college graduation bei 1986. (Carine McCandless family Collection)

Your decision to write die book was a lang time coming, and you’ve shown that that stemmed from years of watching Walt und Billie self-interpret events zu their benefit. Sie offer a an especially telling scene. It’s ns morning after ~ Chris’s wake in Virginia, throughout a breakfast hinweisen your parents’ home, and your mommy says, “Everyone was so kind and forgiving von Chris for what he is done kommen sie this family.” the must schutz been—Yeah, i remember that morning! ich was in this haze of notfall even being able zu fathom the Chris was gone. Und I’m balancing mine anger through why ich know that he left, in the means that he did, und why us didn’t know where the was. Ns struggling with that anger, follow me with die empathy my parents deserve for having lost their son.

Chris was not nur some insolent teenager rebel who had nothing to complain about und took off, and I didn’t write this book an defense des him. But what really made it difficult zum me kommen sie continue to allow die unspoken kommen sie remain unspoken was that, through that info not being the end there, it provided my parents the opportunity to almost bury themselves. I saw it coming und I warned them countless times, wie man they would perform outreach und were speaking about Chris and portraying themselves together martyrs who were honoring him, no matter how much he had hurt them.

I begged them plenty of times, “Please, sie need kommen sie stop doing that.” in reply, they kind of supplied Jon’s publication as a bible: “It’s not in here, dafür it didn’t happen, Carine. Us don’t recognize what you’re talk about.” und that angry me an extremely much, because i had defended them bei that book. 

Meanwhile, Jon was keeping his mouth shut und I was keeping my mouth shut, und I maintained waiting zum my parents kommen sie learn a lesson. And while i’m waiting, i’m keeping die rest of that lesson native millions von people around the world who room learning around this story.

What made sie finally decide “now”?It came complete circle for me when i started speaking with students. In places wherein Into ns Wild was required reading, i saw what an amazing result it had actually on them, und I ended up being more and more comfortable answering your questions. I would constantly answer ns students honestly, und I just started providing out more information. Then i would receive letters from professors, saying, “Your visit here has actually changed ns way I’m to teach this book.” Or when i talked kommen sie some student who ich just knew was dealing through violence at home, or ich could call they to be going through some abusive situation. To hear deswegen many times how this young people finally reached out zum help, weil das the first time, ich knew i had to tell this story.

On that score, die book zu sein not nur about Chris and your parents und Into the Wild. A lot of it zu sein about you, as in adult survivor of domestic violence und emotional trauma.Yes, and I desire people zu understand that, due to the fact that my intent is not zu retell Into ns Wild. There möchte be human being who don’t recognize why i’m talking about having kids und failed marriages and having a special-needs kid with down syndrome, when they nur want to know around Chris.

The book is about Chris, but it’s more von a survive story. Die best method I tun können help civilization learn from Chris and our experiences and our childhood ist to show them straight how ich learned native Chris und how ich learned from ours family’s dysfunction, how i survived. Deswegen I utilize myself an both positive und self-deprecating ways. I can’t criticize other people zum not finding out from mistakes if ich don’t recognize my very own mistakes and what i learned. This book very much goes right into all des that.

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Carine, Chris, Walt, and Billie in the 1970s. (Carine McCandless family members Collection)

There’s a moment when you and Chris are both wenig kids and you’re walking to church. You’re reminded des a waterfall you both saw during a family trip to die Shenandoah, and you recall kris saying, “See, Carine? That’s the purity von nature, it may be harsh in its honesty yet it never lies to you.”Truth was deswegen important zu Chris, und I want people, wie they turn the tonnage page des this book, zu feel empowered an knowing the all sachen that happen in life, both good und bad, have a purpose. Chris used kommen sie talk zu me about how everything that happens brings v it bei opportunity, and we used to talk around how even negative things that happen are fuel and you can use that energy—it’s all energy, you’re in charge des how that affects you, und you can use it kommen sie launch yourself in a positive direction. Ich think kris saw natur as in escape indigenous all the things the he was lacking in his childhood. Jene might be harsh, and nature ist sometimes harsh, yet nature ist not going zu manipulate you.

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Chris und I knew ns good sachen that we had, just von virtue des being youngsters who prospered up an America, yet that didn’t make the negative things any less real. I had to navigate my method through that, und it take it me a long time, und I had kommen sie face that ich couldn’t navigate efficiently without acknowledging die full truth. Ich know this book ist going to be ns beginning of a long, really challenging process. Ich know I’ll be heralded as brave by some und I’ll it is in criticized together cruel by others. But I believe these lessons kann help those who review them as viel as it helped me kommen sie write castle down. Ich wrote this publication with a focus on truth and with pure intent. The person who taught me that this ist the just thing the matters ist Chris.