Wild

Hold the front page. I read some non-fiction. And WHAT A BOOK.

WHAT a book. For one thing it use the word c*** in the first five pages – never a bad thing in a book recommended by a colleague, where one always suspects one is being taught something.

Of course, I was being taught something. Rather a lot, as I have never read anything remotely like this. The book is divided into Wild Earth, Wild Ice, Wild Water, Wild Fire, Wild Air and Wild Mind (of which Earth and Mind are the standouts.) It follows the author’s journey living “wild”, connecting with the land and locals, for 6 years or so all over the world, in a pretty hippy, ayahuasca-drinking, vision-having, anti-globalism type way.

Now, I’ve forgotten the details as this was a couple of months ago. But this book hasn’t left me, as I can tell by the fact I wrote the phrase ‘connecting with the land’ with a straight face. Phrases like ‘connecting with the land’ traditionally make me laugh and turn up the aircon. But I defy you to feel the same after reading Jay’s evocations of physically experiencing these different landscapes and the levels of meaning, geographical and social, layered within them.

Before I lose you, think of this: walking barefoot on grass, how at home you feel in your parents’ garden or up a tree, or the feel of seawater on skin. Cliches, true, but we all know this feeling of rootedness. In Wild, this kernel is exploded into a radical association with land and rejection of everything that breaks this bond.

If there’s one thing you can judge a book by, it’s the lasting impression it leaves on you. And Wild has made me seek out time outdoors that bit more than I have since I “grew up.” Griffiths wouldn’t be satisfied, but I think that’s a powerful thing for a book to do. Especially non-fiction.

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