Coming-Of-Age Canon: Harry Dietrich

Formative stories from the YOUTH group


Harry Dietrich

FORMATIVE INSPIRATION (book/movie/song, etc)

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

What about it struck you?

Into The Wild was a book that I had stumbled upon without knowing much about it beforehand. It was one of those “pick a book from this list” assignments, and I hadn’t heard of any of the books on the list. Into the Wild was a title that stuck out to me, and I decided to read it based on that alone.

After learning more about the book, the thought of a person abandoning all their earthly belongings and money to hitchhike around the country and eventually, attempt to survive on their own in the Alaskan wilderness was extremely foreign and difficult to grasp. After learning it was a non-fiction piece, rather than a fictional piece, it made the events that much stranger and more unbelievable.

How has it informed your development as a person/artist/scholar/etc?

This was one of the first non-fiction books I’ve ever read that I’ve never been able to put down. It was so fascinating to me. Krakauer retraced the steps of a man who, after graduating at the top of his class, gave away all his scholarship money and personal belongings and went off the grid to make a new life for himself. It was the first time that I realized and understood that non-fiction can be interesting and page-turning.

Have you incorporated any of its lessons into your life that you use, even now?

One of the biggest lessons that I try and keep in mind today is that some stories are interesting just because they’re true. This story, of a college age man going off the grid and trying to survive in tundral Alaska, sounds unrealistic and fabricated at times, but it is 100% true. I also feel that I subconsciously developed a personal philosophy from this book: uncomfortableness is not always bad; if I am too comfortable, then I need to find a way to change my circumstances to make myself uncomfortable again. This is exactly what Chris did when he left for Alaska. He was too comfortable in his life, so he found a way to challenge himself and be uncomfortable again.

Would you recommend it to others? Why or why not?

I would 100% recommend this book to others, especially if they are fans of unsolved cold cases. Krakauer also uses a lot of interview styled writing in the book, so anyone who enjoys that will feel very comfortable with this book.