Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Call of the Wild - Jack London

In mid-July, Kevin and I went up to see his family in Michigan.  It's about a 5 hour drive for us from nowhere, Ohio.  When we go, I always try to find an audiobook that will keep us both suitably entertained; trust me, it's not an easy task.  Kevin needs something that will keep his attention while driving; I need something that will keep me intellectually engaged as well as keeping me awake.

Since I have been on a bit of a frenzy lately about working toward my 100 Best Novels goal, I set my sights on finding a list member to listen to on the trip.  I knew it needed to be something fairly short.  We don't do well at finishing books that remain incomplete upon returning to Ohio.  We like to talk on our drives, as well as throwing in a few podcasts.  This typically leaves 4-6 hours round trip for a good book.

Normally, I am no fan of animal stories.  In fact, I have never even seen Lassie or Old Yeller.  Since I never had a non-swimming pet growing up (my dad hates animals), I simply never developed the bond that so many people have with four-legged creatures.  Frankly, I don't get it.  Until we have a dog of our own some day, I know I won't understand the relationship evoked between man and his best friend.  The closest I have yet come is the mild sadness I felt when my grandparents' farm dog died or the few tears I shed after playing with an adorable puppy at the mall pet store and worrying someone awful would adopt it.

Due to this deficiency I have in pet love, I tend to steer clear of pet stories.  Knowing I don't connect with them, I prefer books with which I do identify.  Give me Atonement over Marley and Me any day.  Still, Modern Library and their great list called for at least one animal story (stayed tuned...their may be more lurking in my future).  Jack London's Call of the Wild easily qualifies to be called a classic.  As a child, I read my Great Illustrated Classics copy of this work several times.  As we listened, I could still picture the hand drawn images of Buck on each page.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, London weaves the tale of Buck, a dog kidnapped from his cushy life in California and sent to work as a sled dog in the northern most parts of North America.  Buck serves as narrator and protagonist.  He works alongside other dogs and works for a variety of human masters.

The most interesting thing to me in this tale is that London chooses to tell it from an animal perspective.  For the most part, this keeps the language unchanged.  There are, however, a few sections which cause a bit of confusion.  At one point Buck describes what seems to be a monkey, though a monkey would be pretty out of place in the tundra.

This may be the first book that Kevin enjoyed more than I did.  I did not disenjoy the book, but, as I mentioned, animal-centric stories just aren't my thing.  I found the historical context interesting.  I liked some of the characters. I enjoyed seeing Buck's character development, even if he was just a dog.  London wrote a fine book.  At the end of the day, though, it's just not my genre.  Maybe someday, when Kevin buys me a little pup of my own, I will revisit Call of the Wild and understand the emotional relationships between Buck and his masters.

Do you like animal stories?  Am I crazy for just not getting it?

Pages: 172
Date Completed: July 14, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment