This week, we embark on a five week journey with Buck, a St. Bernard Scotch-Collie who begins life as a happy pet and through bad luck and careless men, ends up as an Alaskan sled dog. This is one of Jack London’s most beloved books, The Call of the Wild. London got his inspiration from a hard year he spent living in the Yukon, where he gathered material for many of his books.
This book has always been popular. It was immediately well received by critics and earned London a place in the canon of the great American novel. You probably read it as a kid when you were in school. If you have a kid, s/he’s probably brought it home (or will soon). And I’m sure you loved it, and so does your kid.
It is my theory that the reason that book has been in the school syllabus for the past 50 years or so, is that it is such a wild ride, such a great read. It helps teachers to instil a love of literature in youngsters who are also dealing with harder books, like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I remember thinking, if the Call of the Wild is so good, chances are that the rest of them are also worth reading. So I gave myself some extra time and patience and I haven’t stopped reading since. Let’s think of this as a gateway book!
There is only one problem, you probably can’t remember why you loved it so much. The details don’t stick to your brain as well as you’d like. But you are in luck! B.J. Harrison is bringing it to you via the podcast, or better yet, the Classic Tales App! Listen to it with your family, maybe as you travel during these last wonderful weeks of Summer vacation!
Regrettably, I can’t think of a good movie version of this book. Most of them have been turned into happy-go-lucky stories or excuses for handsome men to meet beautiful women (I rather like this movie, but it has little to do with the book). So if you know of a good one, leave it in the comments, will you?
So, to paraphrase B.J., let’s join him, and together, discover the greatest stories the world has ever known!