Remember like, six months ago when I said that I was going to start reading the 100 best books on the best book list? After starting and restarting and being confused and looking up a few chapter synopses on Wikipedia and then kind of understanding and then just crawling through each sentence and looking up a LOT of words, I stopped reading James Joyce's Ulysses and tried a different book on the list; The Call of the Wild, by Jack London. Don’t worry, I haven’t given up on Ulysses, it’s very original and interesting, it’s just taking forever and hurts my brain sometimes.
I chose this book because it was a free download on my eReader. A bunch of these books are free, which is an added bonus to a poor person that is too lazy to go to the library like me, but I had apparently purchased it before and it was already on my kindle app, so there you go.
Some factoids about this book:
-It was originally published as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post, and then published as a novella in 1903.
- It’s based on Jack London’s actual time up north during the actual Alaskan/Yukon gold rush.
- It’s fucking awesome.
Told from a big, burly dog’s point of view, it tells the tale of how Buck ends up in the frozen tundra working as a sled dog. He has some good owners and some stupid ones, and travels all over the place in the meantime. Throughout the book he feels he’s slowly becoming un-domesticated and tapping into the ancient instincts of his ancestors (i.e., the call of the wild).
I loved it so very much and it’s encouraged me to tackle other books on the list. It’s told very simply and straight forwardly, with little literary pomp and circumstance. You know what I mean, right? Some books are written by people who write fancy, formal and complicated words and phrases for the sole purpose of being fancy, formal and complicated so other members of the literati will think they’re fancy, formal, and yes, complicated. In other words*: superfluous.
*Do you still say 'in other words' if you're only referring to a single word? 'In another word' just doesn't sound right. Damn, I bet those literati that I was just talking about would know...
That being said, pushing the boundaries of contemporary fiction is completely necessary and important, because without it everything would stay the same and be super boring. Remember in my super long and tedious favorite movie list how I said there’s a difference between the ‘best’ movies and my personal ‘favorite’ movies? It’s like that, but, you know, with books.
The Call of the Wild seems to be firmly entrenched in both of these worlds, as it’s on the top 100 book list AND it's a great read. As previously stated, it was written so simply and perfectly that it completely sucked me in. It seemed like every word written had the exact meaning and purpose that he intended it to have. It was so clear and concise; you could feel the coldness, the emptiness and the danger of the terrain. It was exciting and fast-paced, there was great peril, and huge obstacles to overcome, and impossible odds, and love and violence and warmth and death and the pure ecstasy of absolute freedom from everything but your deepest, most primal self. And it was about a dog! I love dogs so very much. If it wasn’t for the limited funds and strict city ordinances, I’d probably have four or five of them. Or ten.
I read this book in two hours. I couldn’t stop, I had to know how it was going to end. My only complaint would have to be that since it was written almost 100 years ago, our ideas have changed about how to train dogs. There’s dog-on-dog and dog-on-whip/club violence. So that part was a little terrible to read, but it added another layer of harsh reality to the story, which ultimately made it more compelling because we felt sympathy for this dog that was abused (and totally kicked ass too).
So, that’s it. My first brainy book report. On a scale of zero to ten brains, zero being the worst and ten being the best (duh!) I give this book nine brains. I would’ve given ten if it was longer. I want more.