Chasing the Horizon
An ode to living in the present and the adventurous spirit, Chasing the Horizon read more like an autobiography than it did a work of creative non-fiction. I thought the memoir was dense, with a very linear plot progression and, at parts, felt less like a personal narrative and more like a biographical account. Les Rogers undeniably has had an interesting life with a myriad of experiences, and I feel his book does successfully allow the reader to pick up the essence with which he approached life.
The backpacking and traveling days of Les Rogers have evolved, resulting in a very different experience if one were to hitchhike and backpack today. However, the spirit and need to travel is something that even the millennial generation of the present would find relatable. There is the thrill and the desire to experience the great attractions of the world that I think Rogers was able to capture.
Chasing the Horizondocuments Rogers’ life from growing up as a child on the East Coast to his move to California through his trip in Mexico, until he ultimately ends up in Alaska. All his life, Rogers just wanted to break free from his mother’s reach and experience the volcanoes of Mexico and the Yukon River of Alaska, which is the main adventure that drives the plot of this book forward.
As consequence, the memoir does have a heavier focus on day-to-day living in Alaska and our reminder of that dream, as opposed to the actual journeys themselves. His biking, hiking, and finagling through Mexico and up the coast of California into the Canadian border, before eventually crossing into Alaska, are amazing feats, but I was disappointed to feel that there wasn’t enough emphasis on the actual travel. Instead of detailed accounts of life on the road, a multi-day trek on the Alaskan Highway was completed within a few chapters, and the book would return to the matter-of-fact chronology of Rogers’ life.
Although based on diary entries the author wrote and kept until he could share his experiences, I almost wish that the diary entries themselves had been included in place of the reconstructed prose, adding more personal insight about his journey. While his story is great, and I’m glad it’s being given a chance to be told, it was very linear in its progression and was not necessarily exciting or dramatic.
Chasing the Horizon did make me want to pursue my own adventures, however, and the historical context Rogers provided was an interesting second story within the memoir. The end of the book maintained relevance to the theme of the elusive trip down the Yukon and increased in more episodic anecdotes, which caused for some very exciting interactions between the people he met along the way. Ultimately, for me, the book wasn’t what I expected it to be and fell short with the potential to be a stronger work than it was. However, this will undoubtedly be an enjoyable story for those readers who take an interest in listening to the life stories of others.