Finding THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS

9781101875681_5fe86When he was in his 20s Christopher Thomas Knight became a hermit, living in self-imposed isolation in the Maine woods for close to 30 years. His story, and that of his arrest for a string of robberies, is the subject of the new book The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It debuts on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction best seller list at #11 this week, having been both a LibraryReads and an Indie Next pick and is receiving some belated critical attention.

The NYT reviews it, saying it will have “mass appeal … It’s campfire-friendly and thermos-ready, easily drained in one warm, rummy slug. It also raises a variety of profound questions — about the role of solitude, about the value of suffering, about the diversity of human needs.”

The Atlantic says that Knight “avoided humanity with the guile of a samurai … He entered the woods like a suicide, leaving his keys inside the car. He had no destination, nor a map; he carried a tent but had never spent a night in one before. Most of his family members and friends assumed he had died. In one sense they were right.”

USA Today gives it three out of four stars and writes it is an “intriguing account of Knight’s capture and confessions, and while it amasses the inventive details of Knight’s solitary life, it can’t quite explain the man himself. Knight is opaque — more than a loner, hardly a lunatic.”

The 2014 GQ story that launched the book is the magazine’s most-read story ever. They now offer an interview with Finkel.

The Guardian runs an illustrated extract.

Holds vary widely across the systems we checked, with a high of 8:1 and a low below 1:1. However, if the GQ article is any guide, this is the kind of book that grows an audience over time.

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