Literary Nonfiction. How did Cheryl Strayed turn a solo hike into an inspirational memoir, beloved by millions? Memoirist and professor Alden Jones sets out to explore why. But when a sudden personal crisis occurs while she is writing, Jones realizes she must confront some difficult truths, both in her life and on the page. THE WANTING WAS A WILDERNESS is a profoundly original work that blends criticism, craft analysis, and a memoir of Jones's own time in the wilderness. The result is a celebration of WILD and a map of our long path to self-discovery.
"Alden Jones intended to write a reckoning with a contemporary literary classic--but she has written far more than that. To carefully dissect Wild, she finds she must consider her own quests: her own time in the wild; her self-discoveries as a queer woman; and how she can both live and tell an authentic story. This is a beautiful, lyric, unexpected book about the power of memoir and how desire both leads us into the wilderness and makes for us a map. THE WANTING WAS A WILDERNESS is book for readers, true readers, to treasure."--Alex Marzano-Lesnevich
"In THE WANTING WAS A WILDERNESS, Alden Jones initiates a smartly syncopated call-and-response with Cheryl Strayed's Wild, the book that helped her make sense of a past turbulent with conflicting desires. Embedded in the saga of her own wilderness trek is Jones's open-eyed and completely compelling account of the dynamics of love and sexuality. The book builds itself beautifully as Jones keeps asking herself how to best present her story. This is how craft makes a memoir come to life."--Sven Birkerts
"THE WANTING WAS A WILDERNESS defies genre--part literary analysis, part memoir, part rumination on memoir and memoir writing. Alden Jones explores her own private wilderness as she takes us along on Cheryl Strayed's hike. This journey through Jones's life, and her intelligent, thoughtful considerations of literature and writing, is one you will not want to miss. Jones asks us: What's in your pack? And that is the question that ultimately resonates: As you think about your wilderness, what's in your pack?"--Ann Hood
"THE WANTING WAS A WILDERNESS is so much more than a work of literary criticism or a memoir. It is a manifesto on how to live an honest and authentic life. Brilliant!"--Bobbi Brown
"Intimate, instructive, and entertaining—all that you might want from the genre."—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Not only does the book offer a roadmap for the budding memoirist, but Jones goes a step further, bushwhacking a trail for writers to follow."—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
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About the Author
Alden Jones is the author of Unaccompanied Minors and The Blind Masseuse. Her stories and essays have appeared in the Best American Travel Writing, New York Magazine, Agni, The Rumpus, among others. She teaches creative writing and cultural studies at Emerson College and is core faculty in the low-residency Newport MFA program at Salve Regina University.