One Man's Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland
Author: Ken Ilgunas
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Now that President Donald Trump has revived the Keystone XL pipeline that was rejected by former President Obama, Trespassing Across America is the book to help us understand the kaleidoscopic significance of the project. Told with sincerity, humor, and wit, Ilgunas's story is both a fascinating account of one man’s remarkable journey along the pipeline's potential path and a meditation on climate change, the beauty of the natural world, and the extremes to which we can push ourselves—both physically and mentally. It started as a far-fetched idea—to hike the entire length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. But in the months that followed, it grew into something more for Ken Ilgunas. It became an irresistible adventure—an opportunity not only to draw attention to global warming but also to explore his personal limits. So in September 2012, he strapped on his backpack, stuck out his thumb on the interstate just north of Denver, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles to the Alberta tar sands. Once there, he turned around and began his 1,700-mile trek to the XL’s endpoint on the Gulf Coast of Texas, a journey he would complete entirely on foot, walking almost exclusively across private property. Both a travel memoir and a reflection on climate change, Trespassing Across America is filled with colorful characters, harrowing physical trials, and strange encounters with the weather, terrain, and animals of America’s plains. A tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there, Ilgunas’s memoir grapples with difficult questions about our place in the world: What is our personal responsibility as stewards of the land? As members of a rapidly warming planet? As mere individuals up against something as powerful as the fossil fuel industry? Ultimately, Trespassing Across America is a call to embrace the belief that a life lived not half wild is a life only half lived.
"The attempt to understand the desires related to radical, risky acts like climbing to 29,028 feet as well as the everyday participation in and fascination with extreme lifestyles lays at the heart of this book and the extreme adventure narratives it studies. The American Adrenaline Narrative identifies and examines such stories' desiring natures and considers how perilous outdoor adventure tales, what the author terms "adrenaline narratives," simultaneously promote and hinder ecological sustainability. To explore these interdepended desires, the manuscript defines and compares adrenaline narratives by a range of American authors writing after the first Earth Day in 1970, selected as a crucial watershed for the contemporary American environmental movement and for cultures of the extreme. The forty-plus years since the first Earth Day mark the rise in the popularity and marketing of all things extreme-including sports, jobs, travel, beverages, gum, makeovers, laundry detergent, and even the environmental movement itself. This book and the term "adrenaline narrative" provide a classification for and analysis of the rapidly growing and wildly popular collection of narratives-primarily nonfiction, autobiographical, or biographical accounts-focused on extreme sports, lifestyle, and travel that emerge into the popular consciousness during a time of environmental activism that, like the adrenaline narratives themselves, range from conservative to radical acts. While literary or artistic merit, as a result, is not Jacobson's primary impetus for identifying and studying adrenaline narratives, attention to narrative form plays a key role in understanding their ecological messages and the ways the accounts deftly exploit form to craft suspenseful, page-turning exploits. The author's methods to map the American eco-imagination via adrenaline narratives are grounded in the traditional literary practice of close reading analysis and in ecofeminism. The book surveys a range of popular and lesser-known primary texts by American authors, including bestselling books-such as Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Aron Ralston's Between a Rock and a Hard Place-and lesser-known and read texts-such as Patricia C. McCairen's Canyon Solitude, Eddy L. Harris's Mississippi Solo, and Stacy Allison's Beyond the Limits. Jacobson primarily focuses on book-length nonfiction narratives; however, adrenaline narratives may also be found in print and online articles and magazines, feature length and short films, television shows, amateur videos, social networking sites, fiction, advertising, and blogs. Jacobson contends that these stories-whatever their format-comprise a distinctive genre because-unlike traditional nature, travel, and sports writing-adrenaline narratives sustain heightened risk or the element of the "extreme" within a natural setting. Additionally, reading these narratives as a separate genre provides important insight into the American environmental imagination's connection to masculinity and adventure"--