Daily Archives: June 4, 2017

The Stranger In The Woods – A Book Review



I grew up in the woods in Northern Ontario. I was a young fellow being raised by my grandparents and I spent an awful lot of time where I was basically hiding out in the woods. I found a kind of peace out there in amongst the rocks and the trees – so I have always had a kind of fascination for this whole “hermit” scenario.

Like the author, Michael Finkel, my actual experience with true solitude were highly limited – but nevertheless a part of me always wondered what it would really be like.

So I picked this book thinking that I would find the hint of an answer in its story – but, like so many things in life, answers are as hard to find as true solitude.

I chewed through this book, fascinated by the story that it told. I read it in about two days flat. I just wanted to get to the end and see how things turned out.

There are still a lot of things I don’t know about this story that I just read, but that doesn’t bother me. When you are talking about other people you are ALWAYS going to be on the outside looking in, so the fact that Finkel is only guessing at the true nature of the hermit makes perfect sense to me.

This is one of those books that begs to be reread and I expect to read it a few more times.

That, to me, is the mark of a good book – one that demands and expects to be reread.

Still, I will warn you unwary readers that you ought not to go into this book expecting to come out with the complete life story of the hermit. You won’t get any sort of “Well I was born and grew up and then some mystical voice spoke to me…”

This isn’t that kind of a book.

This is more akin to a book of cryptozoology. Finkel shows the reader a few blurry snapshots of his “sasquatch”, the hermit.

We are left with a dim impression of what makes this hermit tick – and that’s how it should be. We really aren’t supposed to come away from a book like this knowing exactly how this fellow thinks. He is a mystery without any sort of possible solution in sight.

I enjoyed this book.

I’d recommend it highly – but not for impatient folks who are looking for spoon-fed wisdom. This is a book that will make you think.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


On the other hand I do really want to have a look at TRUE STORY, a 2015 movie based on the true story of a killer who stole Michael Finkel’s identity. I think it’s on Netflix. I’ve got to go and have me a hunt.