I’m belatedly reading the New Yorker’s April 18th travel issue. Jonathan Franzen has an excellent Franzenian essay on traveling to the remote South Pacific island of Alejandro Selkirk, so-renamed by Chilean authorities to honor—or deploy as marketing force—the stranded Scot who is supposed to have inspired “Robinson Crusoe.”
Franzen makes the requisite pre-trip trip to America’s retail temple of the outdoors: “Then I indulged in a little orgy of consumerism at REI, where the Crusovian romance abides in the aisles of ultra-lightweight survival gear and, especially perhaps, in certain emblems of civilization-in-wilderness, like the stainless-steel Martini glass with an unscrewable stem.”
I like a martini in the woods as much as anyone. But without a little self-discipline those REI stores can suck you into a meandering half-day adventure that finds you mulling life jackets in the canoe section when all you wanted was some protein bars. That’s the power of Crusovian romance.