I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read Jack London before. I know, shameful. He’s a man’s author if ever there was one. But I saw an unabridged version of Call of the Wild on CD at the library and decided to give it a try. The language is poetic without being pretentious. And if ever there was a book that actually made me consider getting a dog this is it. I found myself envying John Thorton, the Klondike man who earns Buck’s undying love and devotion.
What I love most about Wild is that it’s an adventure story through and through. A literary classic, yes. But an adventure story first and foremost. There’s peril at every turn as Buck, the stout St. Bernard/Collie mix, is kidnapped from his comfortable home at an estate in California and sold as a sled dog far north in the merciless Klondike. Buck must learn the law of “club and fang,” the harsh, savage code of the North in which the strong and vicious rule with brute force and bite.
Passed from owner to owner, Buck learns that there are good natured and evil men in the world. And that dogs too can be classified as such. One of the novel’s most thrilling moments is the stand-off between Buck and his rival dog Spitz.
But the story’s true heart emerges when Buck finds John Thorton. Theirs is the relationship that every dog-owner longs for. And when Buck is called upon to pull the 1,000 pound sled to win John Thorton a bet, I felt like cheering as much as the witnesses in the story.
Recently I picked up a collection of Jack London short stories at the used book sale. And now I’m very glad that I did.