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The Way Out: A True Story of Survival

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Craig Childs is lost. In a labyrinth of canyons in the American Southwest where virtually nothing else is alive-barely any vegetation, few signs of wildlife, scant traces of any human precursors in this landscape-Childs and his friend Dirk undertake a fortnight's journey. Craig Childs is lost. In a labyrinth of canyons in the American Southwest where virtually nothing else is alive-barely any vegetation, few signs of wildlife, scant traces of any human precursors in this landscape-Childs and his friend Dirk undertake a fortnight's journey.


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Craig Childs is lost. In a labyrinth of canyons in the American Southwest where virtually nothing else is alive-barely any vegetation, few signs of wildlife, scant traces of any human precursors in this landscape-Childs and his friend Dirk undertake a fortnight's journey. Craig Childs is lost. In a labyrinth of canyons in the American Southwest where virtually nothing else is alive-barely any vegetation, few signs of wildlife, scant traces of any human precursors in this landscape-Childs and his friend Dirk undertake a fortnight's journey.

30 review for The Way Out: A True Story of Survival

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ian Mackay

    Thanks for this wonderful book!! It absorbed me from start to finish. The story acts on at least two levels all the way. Childs tells stories from his life and that of his friend that illustrate and are illustrated by the incidents of the journey. To help us clues proliferate all through. Craig (a crag) and Dirk (a dagger) shape and hone each other all even as the land shapes and hones them. The journey mirrors the protagonists’ self discovery - although to put it tritely like that is to do this Thanks for this wonderful book!! It absorbed me from start to finish. The story acts on at least two levels all the way. Childs tells stories from his life and that of his friend that illustrate and are illustrated by the incidents of the journey. To help us clues proliferate all through. Craig (a crag) and Dirk (a dagger) shape and hone each other all even as the land shapes and hones them. The journey mirrors the protagonists’ self discovery - although to put it tritely like that is to do this lovely account a grave injustice... hopefully though it may help someone in this prepackaged and ersatz age to sit with the odyssey till it opens itself to him/her. This is a book to cherish and learn from and to revisit again and again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yassemin

    I purchased this for about 20p from my local library so to be completely honest, I wasn't really expecting too much but it sounded like a good read, so I got it anyway. All the more appealing as apparently, it is based on a true story. It supposedly is a tale of survival, a man lost in the deserts of America, whilst on a nature trek with a friend and fellow nature enthusiast, called Dirk. I therefore expected, given the nature of the book, details of the surroundings, sure. However, for all of th I purchased this for about 20p from my local library so to be completely honest, I wasn't really expecting too much but it sounded like a good read, so I got it anyway. All the more appealing as apparently, it is based on a true story. It supposedly is a tale of survival, a man lost in the deserts of America, whilst on a nature trek with a friend and fellow nature enthusiast, called Dirk. I therefore expected, given the nature of the book, details of the surroundings, sure. However, for all of the 60 odd pages I did read, it was pretty much NOTHING but detail and description of various rocks, stones, desert and wilderness formation with only minimal dialogue and character involvement in between. I switched off pretty early as a result, it just didn't capture my attention. I wouldn't recommend it, unless you need a cure for insomnia, then be my guest and read it. Rubbish and boring!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Waverly Fitzgerald

    I just reread this book, after taking a class with Craig Childs. I have to admit I loved it more the second time through. The description of the labyrinthine journey through the canyons is compelling, and the language is lyrical and spectacular. I especially love the personal stories of both Childs (mostly focusing on his relationship with his difficult and challenging father) and his companion, Dirk, an ex-cop (who has seen the worst of human nature due to his job). These stories resonate with I just reread this book, after taking a class with Craig Childs. I have to admit I loved it more the second time through. The description of the labyrinthine journey through the canyons is compelling, and the language is lyrical and spectacular. I especially love the personal stories of both Childs (mostly focusing on his relationship with his difficult and challenging father) and his companion, Dirk, an ex-cop (who has seen the worst of human nature due to his job). These stories resonate with the accounts of the dangers they face as they make their way through an uncharted landscape.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Corpac

    A great survival hike by a traveling partnership. The action of Dirk's cophood with Craig's mixed feelings/memories of his dad blends in with this spiritual journey of overcoming obstacles and letting go. A great survival hike by a traveling partnership. The action of Dirk's cophood with Craig's mixed feelings/memories of his dad blends in with this spiritual journey of overcoming obstacles and letting go.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    I found this book at once more personal and more stormy than other books of Child. It is for those very reasons that I at once enjoyed it and was a bit rattled by it. The disturbance that runs through it feels real and raw and it does give a different texture to the walk and the search. Underneath Child's capacity to drink silence and peace stirs much unrest. This time he shares that too. I liked having access to this, but it was not a restful read - so I guess his sharing was extermely efficien I found this book at once more personal and more stormy than other books of Child. It is for those very reasons that I at once enjoyed it and was a bit rattled by it. The disturbance that runs through it feels real and raw and it does give a different texture to the walk and the search. Underneath Child's capacity to drink silence and peace stirs much unrest. This time he shares that too. I liked having access to this, but it was not a restful read - so I guess his sharing was extermely efficient, as it always is.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie Weston

    Craig Childs is one of my favorite writers. I have now read all of his books and recommend all of them. This story of survival enthralls and devastates. Childs has a way of drawing in readers, especially this reader, into his stories, so I feel as if I have lived them. It is always with sadness when I complete reading his books, and I am usually tempted to go back and begin one of his books all over again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I thought this was going to be a survival story, but it's more of a meditation of one's role in nature. Childs and friend hike the labyrinthian canyon lands of Utah, get lost, confront their inner demons. I enjoy the author's descriptions of the desert, but his flowery style gets tiresome. I thought this was going to be a survival story, but it's more of a meditation of one's role in nature. Childs and friend hike the labyrinthian canyon lands of Utah, get lost, confront their inner demons. I enjoy the author's descriptions of the desert, but his flowery style gets tiresome.

  8. 4 out of 5

    K

    Sitting on shelf just waiting. A remarkable read of desert canyon hiking and self discovery. Nearly spiritual. Ok, more than nearly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Candy

    Not what I expected. It was interesting in parts but I was hoping for more description of the canyons and less philosophy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    4.5 stars - good story, not the BEST of CC.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Craig Childs is without a doubt the greatest living nature writer, and this is an amazing read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carie Steele

    I was really looking forward to reading this --- hoping for something along the same lines as Fire Season or The Last Season, or even Childs' other works --- but found myself disappointed. It was an okay read, but I found the descriptions overwrought. Despite my usual ability to visualize outdoor settings, I had a very hard time picturing the environs described here, and an even more difficulty empathizing with the author's description of his emotional responses to the space. Worth a read, but n I was really looking forward to reading this --- hoping for something along the same lines as Fire Season or The Last Season, or even Childs' other works --- but found myself disappointed. It was an okay read, but I found the descriptions overwrought. Despite my usual ability to visualize outdoor settings, I had a very hard time picturing the environs described here, and an even more difficulty empathizing with the author's description of his emotional responses to the space. Worth a read, but not one of my favorite books in this genre.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael John

    I really like this type of writing. Craig Childs does an excellent job of finding the way out of the "civilized" world in which we live and into the labyrinthine canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Two issues however. First, I didn't ever feel as if he and Dirk were lost. The sensation of panic and desperation never seemed tangible to this reader. Childs seemed more at home in the wilds than he did in the flashbacks to urban life. Dirk as well. These men seem awkward when dealing with society yet a I really like this type of writing. Craig Childs does an excellent job of finding the way out of the "civilized" world in which we live and into the labyrinthine canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Two issues however. First, I didn't ever feel as if he and Dirk were lost. The sensation of panic and desperation never seemed tangible to this reader. Childs seemed more at home in the wilds than he did in the flashbacks to urban life. Dirk as well. These men seem awkward when dealing with society yet absolutely comfortable when "lost" in the wilderness. Not a novel of tension for me, but one of meditation and reflection. Secondly, in some ways, the location and journey seemed too vague for me at times. I realize that it was a spiritual journey, but at times it was a bit too spiritual. I couldn't feel the sandstone or smell the water or hear the silence. I envision the men moving through the canyons, but often found it hard to tell the canyons apart. When you travel as they have, every canyon has its own personality and that didn't come through clearly. I like the part about the Protectionway Ceremony and how the wilderness threatens yet protects at the same time. I was reminded of Meloy's book The Last Cheater's Waltz where she explored the connections between the desert, its beauty, and violence. Both men must deal with violence in their past, as do many of us today. Both reach their own conclusions in the branches of the canyon they choose at the end of the book. Looking forward to more of Child's work.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    I absolutely love Craig Child's writing. His descriptions are wrenching, real and unending. The perfect example of show-don't-tell writing. I relate to his settings: I am at home in the desert, the mountains, extreme weather, the untamed. Although I don't push the boundaries as he does, he challenges me to be willing to push them a little further. This telling kept my hands sweaty from p.127 on. It could have all gone very wrong. I know that feeling of despair, relief, what do I do about that bobc I absolutely love Craig Child's writing. His descriptions are wrenching, real and unending. The perfect example of show-don't-tell writing. I relate to his settings: I am at home in the desert, the mountains, extreme weather, the untamed. Although I don't push the boundaries as he does, he challenges me to be willing to push them a little further. This telling kept my hands sweaty from p.127 on. It could have all gone very wrong. I know that feeling of despair, relief, what do I do about that bobcat circling my camp, despair again, now it's ok, this exposure is a nightmare I want to be on my sofa, never again, when's the next trip. Interspersed with the desert narrative are his remembrances of the fractured relationship with his father, and the gritty police work of his traveling partner, Dirk, who has demons of his own to reckon with. These guys are capable of anything.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Fall

    When I started this book I thought, man this guy is a deep thinker maybe too deep by times. After reading for a while about their backstories, upbringing and inner struggles it started making more sense. This isn't your average walk through the woods hiking book and is more of a spiritual journey in a spiritual place. The flashback stories are good and the writing is rather good," Just go with it." I've been on hikes where you have to get to point B and get out before it gets dark, and don't get When I started this book I thought, man this guy is a deep thinker maybe too deep by times. After reading for a while about their backstories, upbringing and inner struggles it started making more sense. This isn't your average walk through the woods hiking book and is more of a spiritual journey in a spiritual place. The flashback stories are good and the writing is rather good," Just go with it." I've been on hikes where you have to get to point B and get out before it gets dark, and don't get to take everything in. Long day long hikes where I've lost a couple toenails afterwards due to the constant up and down topography but wouldn't change a thing. I learned a thing or two about not just stopping to smell the roses, but really stopping to smell the roses, use your senses... it my help you out in more ways then one. Thanks Craig : )

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason Roth

    Craig Childs writing continuously expresses his love and fascination of the various landscapes that he traverses, most often (like in this book) the southwestern U.S. Although he is very creative with his descriptions, I'm someone who isn't quite as familiar with that specific landscape and got confused at times and found it hard to visualize and put myself in that place. Also, although it seems like he had to include them for his own personal reasons, his portrayal of his traveling companion an Craig Childs writing continuously expresses his love and fascination of the various landscapes that he traverses, most often (like in this book) the southwestern U.S. Although he is very creative with his descriptions, I'm someone who isn't quite as familiar with that specific landscape and got confused at times and found it hard to visualize and put myself in that place. Also, although it seems like he had to include them for his own personal reasons, his portrayal of his traveling companion and his deceased father were at times a drag. I was not really able to relate or connect with either one, and found myself not liking them. That being said, although not as good as most of his other writings that I've read, still a relatively good book when compared to other authors of his kind.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    In the twisting chasms, sloping domes and crashing boulders of southern Utah Craig Childs sits, pen and journal in hand infusing the landscape with his drama. His close companion Dirk, no less dramatic, stabs the air with his pointed observations. Fortunately there are little flashbacks recalling Dirk's days as a cop and Craig's interactions with his crazy ass father. Without these, I fear the book would drown in the sometimes confusing, deeply involved, poetic style that Craig employs to descri In the twisting chasms, sloping domes and crashing boulders of southern Utah Craig Childs sits, pen and journal in hand infusing the landscape with his drama. His close companion Dirk, no less dramatic, stabs the air with his pointed observations. Fortunately there are little flashbacks recalling Dirk's days as a cop and Craig's interactions with his crazy ass father. Without these, I fear the book would drown in the sometimes confusing, deeply involved, poetic style that Craig employs to describe his surroundings.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Guy McArthur

    I found the writing loathesome, often wrenched into 'creative' or pretentious constructions that get in the way of the book. For example, "my eye is so easily caught by the extravagant flash of entropy and of gestation that I forgot that between these two is inestimable dust" (WTF?). Moreover, it is quite boring, with relatively little action as the two men struggle to cross chasms. The only entertaining parts are when he recounts dark stories from the past. I would ordinarily love a book about I found the writing loathesome, often wrenched into 'creative' or pretentious constructions that get in the way of the book. For example, "my eye is so easily caught by the extravagant flash of entropy and of gestation that I forgot that between these two is inestimable dust" (WTF?). Moreover, it is quite boring, with relatively little action as the two men struggle to cross chasms. The only entertaining parts are when he recounts dark stories from the past. I would ordinarily love a book about this topic, exploring the desert southwest but the terrible writing had me very disappointed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda Martin

    If you like to read "true life drama" and pushing the limit, living on the edge...this is a book for you. Any body ever read Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitaire?" Abbey was one of the most unconventional environmentalists since Muir. Craig Childs just picks up wheree Abbey left off and pushesthe limit even further. He is one intelligent guy as far as knowledge of survival in canyons and deserts. If you like to read "true life drama" and pushing the limit, living on the edge...this is a book for you. Any body ever read Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitaire?" Abbey was one of the most unconventional environmentalists since Muir. Craig Childs just picks up wheree Abbey left off and pushesthe limit even further. He is one intelligent guy as far as knowledge of survival in canyons and deserts.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alan Williams

    I wish I could write descriptive narrative text the way Craig Childs does. His use of language is inspiring, as is the use of flashbacks to tell the various parts of this story. At times however the descriptive narrative style can overtake the story, and become just a little too much. Too much detail, too often and the story falters rather than flows. It's a bit of a harsh criticism for a book that I really enjoyed, but I suspect that it might put many readers off. I wish I could write descriptive narrative text the way Craig Childs does. His use of language is inspiring, as is the use of flashbacks to tell the various parts of this story. At times however the descriptive narrative style can overtake the story, and become just a little too much. Too much detail, too often and the story falters rather than flows. It's a bit of a harsh criticism for a book that I really enjoyed, but I suspect that it might put many readers off.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Purple Osprey

    It's got slow paced chapters about walking and climbing and faster paced chapters of flashbacks. It could be a good book. I found it hard to visualize and hard to follow. Ok, I'm not familiar at all with the landscapes he tries to describe, but I remember how I read every book by Jules Verne (for an example)and could picture every scene in every foreign land. Sooo, not so good writing here I would say. It's got slow paced chapters about walking and climbing and faster paced chapters of flashbacks. It could be a good book. I found it hard to visualize and hard to follow. Ok, I'm not familiar at all with the landscapes he tries to describe, but I remember how I read every book by Jules Verne (for an example)and could picture every scene in every foreign land. Sooo, not so good writing here I would say.

  22. 4 out of 5

    sarah morgan

    I was a little hesitant when I started this book. It seemed Hemingwayesque in it's macho two-men-bonding-in-the-wilderness voice, but I was soon caught up in Child's lyrical descriptions of the canyonlands, his memories of his father, and Dirk's dark story of his life as a cop. It's good. It's very very good. I was a little hesitant when I started this book. It seemed Hemingwayesque in it's macho two-men-bonding-in-the-wilderness voice, but I was soon caught up in Child's lyrical descriptions of the canyonlands, his memories of his father, and Dirk's dark story of his life as a cop. It's good. It's very very good.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

    Nice interweaving of flashbacks of his relationship with his father and his hiking buddy's experiences as a cop with being in the canyons of Utah. This is a testament to the power of nature/wilderness to provide a constructive & educational addiction (as opposed to the seeming dead end of alcohol/drugs.) A mountain lion points them towards the way out of endless box canyons. Amazing. Nice interweaving of flashbacks of his relationship with his father and his hiking buddy's experiences as a cop with being in the canyons of Utah. This is a testament to the power of nature/wilderness to provide a constructive & educational addiction (as opposed to the seeming dead end of alcohol/drugs.) A mountain lion points them towards the way out of endless box canyons. Amazing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    R. Patrick

    A journey that risks death through the caverns and canyons of southern Utah. A journey inward as well, as the author comes to grips with his memories of his abusive father. Inter-meshed with it is the story of his friend Dirk, with whom the author is traveling, a person who has lived with risk and death most of his life. Both have seen violence that they must live with, but can never escape.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Kayser-konig

    Very different from the rest of the books I have read by this author. I guess the others were mostly written about a solitary experience in the desert but this one has a second character. One I really didn't like but the story was still good. Very different from the rest of the books I have read by this author. I guess the others were mostly written about a solitary experience in the desert but this one has a second character. One I really didn't like but the story was still good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    Not a very satisfying read. Too metaphysical(or something) for me. Yes, the characters have issues but the way their pasts are intertwined with the story of the journey is a distraction. If you're looking for a tale of outdoor adventure, look elsewhere. Not a very satisfying read. Too metaphysical(or something) for me. Yes, the characters have issues but the way their pasts are intertwined with the story of the journey is a distraction. If you're looking for a tale of outdoor adventure, look elsewhere.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Wonderful story, made me want to go on a walkabout.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Dramatic narrative in the canyons of southern Utah.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karenmarie

    Another book read for my English class. This one was my favorite of the bunch.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Clint

    Read for the second time - fantastic insights into Craig, the desert, Dirk and their friendship. Some very powerful sentences within this book.

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