Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Call of the Wild by Jack London - Book Review #45

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Call of the Wild
by Jack London

An unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, is forcibly taken to Alaska where he eventually becomes leader of a wolf pack.

I read Jack London, well, tried reading anyway, when I was at school and I hated him. I started to read some of his novels and countless short stories and I haven’t finished any of them, except one – Hearts of Three. For years I kept wondering why Hearts of Three was so much different from all Jack London‘s other novels. Then I found out that someone asked Jack London to write a screenplay, giving him a plot and he ended up writing a novel. That put everything on its places. That answered the question why Hearts of Three always felt for me like it wasn’t Jack London’s.

Anyway, couple of days ago, I was thinking what to read next and decided to give the real Jack London another try, so I picked up The Call of the Wild. I was able to finish it without any struggles, unlike when I was in school, and I didn’t hate it, like I used to, which definitely surprised me. Still, I wouldn’t say that I’m in love with Jack London’s work.

I’m a cat person. It is not like I hate dogs, I’m just sort of indifferent to them. So the whole idea about the book being told from the dog’s point of view didn’t excite me that much. However, I was surprised how believable, at least for me, Jack London was able to do that. It is undeniable that he humanized Buck (main character - the dog) a bit, but still, all the way through, it actually felt like the dog himself wouldn’t be able to tell this story better then London did. While I was reading it, it felt like I was looking at the world from the dog’s perspective. I especially appreciate all the small details, like when Buck learned to dug himself into the snow to be warmer or like he figured out to bite the ice out with his teeth, when it collected between his toes. I think these tiny observations what made this story so real.

Overall, I’m glad I gave Jack London another chance. I’m not sure if I will ever be his fan, but now I can definitely say that I appreciate him. I still don’t like how brutally he described the reality, but I guess it is not his descriptions what was brutal, but the reality itself that he described. And if I prefer to close my eyes and hide my head in the sand, the human and animal suffering in the northern climate or the Gold Rush will not disappear or become less real.


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