The whole time I was listening to the audio version of Drew Magary’s The Hike, I wasn’t sure why I was listening, and yet I could not stop. It was a weird mix of my thing and so not my thing. When I was finished, I wasn’t sure what the point was, but weeks later, I’m still thinking about it.
I was initially drawn to it because I remembered Scootsa1000’s review, and that she had really liked the crab. Funny. Surreal. Foul mouthed talking crab. Those were all pluses. A whole book with mostly just a woebegone middle aged man for company, eh, not so much. That crab was entirely necessary to keep me going.
The Amazon description says: “When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.”
It’s reminiscent of The Odyssey. There are trials to overcome, enemies to defeat, and the hope that he will be able to return to domestic life at the end of it all. What barely exists in the book are women. There is a “girl that got away” whom he fucks, a cryptic old woman, a man eating giantess, and his wife shows up in memory and dreams. It feels very middle aged white man centric.
There was nothing to confront here at this beach: no monsters, no past, no future. Everyone left him alone, the ultimate desire of any middle-aged man. The safety of it all wooed him. Coddled him.
After I started on this review, the news that Drew Magary has been seriously (?) injured hit the Internet. It feels weird now to write a less than stellar review of his book. The thing is, he is a very good writer and The Hike is a very well written book. It just isn’t the book for me.