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BookTalk at BSC discussion uncovers a hermit’s life

Published: Jan 25 2019
Readers will gather for BookTalk at BSC on Sunday, Feb. 3, to discuss “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit” by Michael Finkel.
Humanities instructor Dr. Brian Palecek will lead the second of three discussions exploring the theme "Off the Grid” at Bismarck State College from 1 to 3 p.m. in the library of LEA Hall at 1400 Schafer Street.
“The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit” tells the unforgettable true story of Christopher Knight, who found refuge from the pressures of modern society by living alone in a hidden tent in the frigid woods of central Maine for 27 years.
In 1986, then 20-year-old Knight disappeared and was not seen again until 2013, when he was arrested for theft. Knight later admitted to stealing food and other supplies frequently from frustrated locals, who had been dealing with repeated break-ins for years. Through interviews with Knight and area residents, Finkel examines the solitary life story and unusual survival strategies of the mysterious figure known locally as the “North Pond Hermit.”
Perhaps fittingly, this unsettling and thought-provoking work raises far more questions than answers. Finkel delves into thorny issues such as Knight's mental state, the truth of his claims disputed by locals, and the deeper meaning of solitude, individuality and personal freedom. The resulting tale is gripping but often unverifiable. Readers will have to judge the veracity and ethics of both Knight's story and Finkel's reporting of it.
BookTalk at BSC series books are available at local libraries and booksellers. Discussions are open to all. For more information, call 224-5450 or visit The 20th annual series is funded by the BSC Library and a grant from the BSC Foundation.
BookTalk at BSC will wrap up the 2019 series with “The Mosquito Coast: a Novel” by Paul Theroux on March 3.