Friday, June 22, 2007

Call Of The Wild

The Call Of The Wild, by Jack London
$3.99 at Amazon.com
ISBN: 0439227143
It's surprising that I'd never read Call of the Wild until this week, considering how handsome I think Jack London is (see below). Now that I have, I've gotta say I was really impressed by it. Written in 1903, this is a familiar classic simple enough for anyone to enjoy. The story takes place in Alaska during the Yukon Gold Rush, and most of the major characters, including the protagonist, are dogs.
Buck is half Saint Bernard and half Scotch Shepherd Dog. At the beginning of our story he's a pet, living on the farm of the wealthy Judge Miller.
After about four pages, Buck is kidnapped and sold. The remainder of his life is spent pulling sleds in the unforgiving arctic wasteland of Alaska and northern Canada.
Conditions are pretty harsh for the dogs who pull the sleds and the humans who drive them. Often without food, attacked by wild animals, and worked to exhaustion, terror awaits our hero at every turn. His captors lock him in a cage and beat him with clubs. Rival dogs attack him out of jealousy, and incompetent masters nearly kill him and his team.
In time he meets a compassionate human master, and the two develop a beautiful friendship.
A dog for a narrator gave this book an interesting perspective, and Buck is just the kind of animal friend you'd want as a pet: loyal, loving, and with seemingly endless stamina and strength. By the end, however, he's no spoiled house pet: he's fit to survive in the hostile Northland environment.
Written at a time when America was becoming increasingly industrialized, the novels of Jack London remind readers of the untamed wilderness, adventure, and savage beauty which were rapidly disappearing. Men like this don't seem to exist anymore: the heroic bad boy with a lust for danger, sensitivity, and mad writing skills besides. Hans is in love!
But seriously, it's exciting, touching at times, a clear winner all around. It's only $3.99! Don't miss out on this masterpiece of American literature.

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