The Wild Truth
by Carine McCandless
Anyone who has read Into the Wild ought to read The Wild Truth. Written by the sister of Chris McCandless, the 24-year-old American who apparently starved to death in 1992 in the Alaskan wilderness, it attempts to answer the question left dangling in the original book: why did he set off to be on his own? Carine McCandless, who was interviewed by Jon Krakauer when he was writing his book, now reveals what she forbade him to publish, which clearly shows her brother was far from mentally ill. In fact, her revelations make his trip seem like something any young college graduate would want to do for freedom. Unusually close siblings, brother and sister were brought up by mentally and physically abusive parents. Their father also lived a lie: he had another family. This memoir portrays Chris as an intense man with an ascetic streak and a social conscience: a detective his parents hired to find him discovered he had donated the remainder of his college funds to Oxfam America. Carine is among four voices who narrate the tale. Readers will sense her relief in telling their back story.
There Was a Little Girl
by Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields didn't heed oft-repeated advice never to put pen to paper when angry. But in this instance, it has paid off. Inspired, she writes, by a nasty newspaper obituary about her mother, Teri, she tries to set the record straight after almost having a meltdown seeing her portrayed as a desperate single mother who sold her daughter into prostitution and nudity for her own profit. In There Was a Little Girl, the child star of Pretty Baby (1978, aged 12) and The Blue Lagoon (1980) describes growing up in awe of her mother, despite her addiction to "mini-lies" and booze. Her almost total dependence on Teri stretched into early adulthood, when, she writes, all anyone would focus on was whether she was still a virgin. On that subject, she reveals her first time, at 22, was followed by the fear she was leaving her mother. Shields also writes about her failed marriage to tennis star Andre Agassi. It was around this time that she finally sacked her mother as her manager. In writing such a seemingly honest account of her mother, Shields has exorcised some of her own demons.
Food: A Love Story
by Jim Gaffigan
Maybe the jokes in Food: A Love Story need to be delivered as stand-up comedy because they fall flat in a book. Riding on the success of Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan's second literary food venture offers chapter after chapter on the pleasures of fast food, meat and anything else that will kill you prematurely eaten in the quantities and style he favours. We understand Gaffigan lives for food, but he's no foodie: he's more of an eatie because he doesn't have the "insatiable desire to discover what makes something taste good"; he's not that bored. Rather than simply list the dishes he'd kill for, Gaffigan tackles his subject geographically, following his stomach around America as he raves about New York's bagels and Tex-Mex in the south. It's all clean humour - his five children and wife appear throughout - albeit with scatological references and the odd cliché (oysters are snot). All the fast-food chains you can think of appear in this collection of essays likely to appeal mainly to readers hungry for reverse food snobbery. That's no bad thing. It's just that every course is more of the same.