Once upon a time there was a young man from Massachusetts named Christopher Knight who walked into the Maine woods and away from society…for 27 years. He didn’t tell his family, he had no friends, and he abandoned his car.
This is the beginning of the strange but true story of the North Pond Hermit, a man who shunned society but was still dependent on it. While living in a tree-covered clearing deep in the forest, Knight subsisted on food and supplies from twice-monthly raids of nearby cabins. His burglaries numbered into the hundreds.
Besides food he also stole clothing, bedding, a TV, watches, batteries, propane, and reading material–lots and lots of reading material. Meanwhile, the nearby residents didn’t know what to think. Some felt sorry for him, some wanted to help him, but many were enraged.
Knight’s nighttime escapades culminated into one final burglary of a summer camp kitchen, where he was finally apprehended and came to the attention of the author, Michael Finkel, who was determined to write Knight’s story.
The writing style is entertaining and economical, much like Knight himself (whose legal issues continue to this day.) Like the local residents, I was conflicted about Christopher Knight. Living off the grid is one thing, but breaking the law and violating peoples’ property and sense of security is something else. One thing that’s undeniable, however, it’s a fascinating story.