I’m WILD about Cheryl Strayed

January 29, 2015 Memoirs 38

Howdy Bookworms!

Remember back when we read Tiny Beautiful Things for The Fellowship of the Worms and all I wanted to do was hug Cheryl Strayed? I picked up her memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, and the desire to hug her has only intensified. (No, I have not seen the movie. I kind of want to, though, since Reese Witherspoon and I share a birthday.)

wildFour years after the death of her mother, Strayed’s life was spiraling out of control. A series of poor decisions led to the collapse of her marriage and descent into drug abuse all while desperately mourning for her mother. One serendipitous day, Strayed comes across a book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and despite having absolutely no experience with punishing long distance hiking, Strayed decides to tackle the PCT. What follows is her tail of the trail, self discovery, and the world’s sorriest pair of feet. (Seriously, my feet WEPT in sympathy.)

I adored WildI typically dig memoirs, and this was no exception. I goggled at Strayed’s endless moxie in taking on the PCT hike, but I spent a lot of time cringing just the same. I am NOT a risk taker, so my inner monologue kept yelling things like “Just ask for help! I’ll buy you a Snapple Lemonade!” and “For heaven’s sake stop accepting rides from strange men!”

I also appreciated that she explained the fact that she changed her last name to Strayed post divorce. For years I’ve been mentally saying “Stray-Ed” all Shakespearean-like because I assumed it was her birth or married last name and as such would be pronounced slightly differently than the regular word. It is NOT. It is actually JUST the regular word. Enlightening. (I mentally pronounce Jojo Moyes as “Moy-Ez” which is probably wrong, too. I’m still having trouble hearing Rainbow Rowell as “Row” like “WOW” and not “Row” like, your boat, despite having heard a very nice NPR interview.) These aren’t even DIFFICULT names. The things wrong with me are many and varied.

Tell me, Bookworms, do any of you grossly mispronounce author’s names by accident? Just me?

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38 Responses to “I’m WILD about Cheryl Strayed”

  1. Ashley Z

    I didn’t participate in Tiny Beautiful Things discussion.(darn my forgetfulness!) I enjoyed the book and loved the way Strayed answered questions so real and beautiful. I was eager to read Wild! I absolutely fell in love with Cheryl and her openness. She totally seems like one of those tell it like it is, no nonsense, I do what I want to do and you better love me anyway sort of woman! And I love that about her. The way she writes is so real that I found myself totally getting the feels for her! Glad you liked it!

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I loved this one! Haven’t read Tiny Beautiful Things yet, but am planning on it. And – I feel ya on mispronouncing names! I had to email Ariel Lawhon and ask if her first name was pronounced like the mermaid because I was planning to talk about The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress on a radio interview! I much prefer writing where we don’t have to worry about silly things like pronouncing names!!

  3. Lost in Literature 108

    I read WILD a couple of years ago and I was captivated. I loved the way she took control of her own therapy by hiking that trail.

    But like you, the reckless behavior and poor decision-making just caused me to cringe. So many times that poor life could have been taken.
    I loved how she was determined to take her favorite books on the trail. Flannery O’Connor is not my favorite but I can totally see why it was for her. I remember asking myself, “What books would I have taken?”
    Food for thought.

  4. ThatAshGirl

    LOL we totally have opposite pronunciation of all things names.

    It’s totally Moyz….not Moy-ez. And it’s always been WOW, pronouncing it ROW never occurred to me. I blame having an ethnic name. I can totally tell when it needs foreign embellishment or not.

    • Words For Worms

      I’m fairly good with German names because my maiden name was long and German, but beyond that I’m kind of lost. It’s the seemingly easy ones that throw me!

      • ThatAshGirl

        I get ya. I get both worlds. The latin one’s because of dad (so I’m all about the es vs ez) and the German one’s because of mom who’s maiden name is also long and very German.

  5. Carrie

    My high school English teacher pronounced Maya Angelou’s name “Angel-LOW” so I went off the college thinking that was right. I was quickly corrected, but I still have to stop and think, “LOW” or “LOO”?

  6. Rhian

    I read this a couple of years ago and I was conflicted about it. On the one hand I was impressed she walked as far as she did. On the other hand I couldn’t believe how underprepared she was. On the other other hand I was incredibly frustrated by her self-destructive behaviour. I just didn’t ‘get’ her and while I know I should have more sympathy for someone who lost her mum at a young age, I could in no way relate to the way she dealt with her grief. From my notes at the time: “I mean heroin? Really?”.

    • Words For Worms

      I feel you on the heroin bit. I’ve always had a hard time figuring out why people even start in on that knowing how insidiously dangerous it is. Then again, I’m very dull and feel scandalous having a second glass of wine.

  7. Megan M.

    I wasn’t very interested in reading this – until I read “Tiny Beautiful Things.” Now I want to read ALL the Strayed! Her name hasn’t given me trouble, but I too have trouble remembering that Rainbow Rowell is “row” like the charming British way to say you’ve had an argument. It’s because of Rainbow. The pronunciations of “bow” and “row” should match, darn it!

  8. Jennine G.

    Oh I’ve done that too. I had Rowell right according to your description above, but was wrong with Strayed. Picoult is the one I hear everyone mispronounce. I heard her interviewed once and the whole end of the name is silent. It’s like Picco… I think.

  9. Kelly

    One of my favorite authors EVER is Jodi Picoult. I went to one of her signings as a superfan in 2013 and found out THERE that it’s pronounced Pee-koh, not Pi-colt like I always say. So I’m an idiot.

  10. Melissa

    You know, I had a love/hate relationship with Wild. Cheryl was so grossly underprepared and foolish and very very very lucky that something horrible didn’t happen to her.

    Was she brave and courageous by setting out to do something with zero experience, training, or research? Sometimes bravery and folly walk a fine line.

    I couldn’t help but wonder if she had a book deal before or after she started on this trek. Somehow, that would make a difference for me.

    • Words For Worms

      “Sometimes bravery and folly walk a fine line.” THAT. I think that A LOT when I read Harry Potter. Seriously, if Hermione hadn’t been around, Harry’d have been a whole lot of dead early on.

  11. Christine @ BookishlyB

    I read it and, like Into the Wild, I found myself frustrated with her original nonchalance about the wilderness (I have hiked a little bit of the PCT in Yosemite, and it’s nothing compared to some of her path). I went to an event through the LA Public Library that she was at and was a little put off by her bravado. But, then again, when you go from nothing to PCT hiker I guess you’re entitled to some bragging rights.

  12. AMB

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this! My husband really liked it too. Cheryl Strayed isn’t for me, though. I’m too skeptical (a major fault when reading memoirs and advice columns!).

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