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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Reader's Diary #550- Dirk Wales and illustrated by Barry Moser: Jack London's Dog

It's been years since I read Jack London's Call of the Wild or White Fang. So long, in fact, that I hardly even remember if I enjoyed them. However, when I went to the Yukon back in September, I couldn't resist this young people's novella based on another Jack, the dog that lived with London in the short period that he'd actually visited the Yukon in 1897. Jack the dog was the inspiration behind Buck, the hero of Call of the Wild.

For the most part, Jack London's Dog is a pleasant enough tale made all the more interesting once the two Jacks separate and the story divides into two, flipping back and forth between the dog's life still in the Canadian north and the author's life back in the U.S.. London is becoming an internationally famous author just as the dog is becoming a hero in his own right. Once or twice, however, the story was buried underneath over wrought figurative language and the flow of the book was lost:
The snow formed a white tongue, lashing down the slopes driven by the wind as if the wind itself was after something or someone, though there was no person or animal to be seen. The tongue hesitated and transformed itself to a billowing balloon and danced down the slope, lightly, as if to tease, before becoming a rain of icicles hurtling over hillocks and rises in the mountainside, only to come together again and remake itself into an ocean determined to flood the world.
Such mishmashes of images went from accidentally amusing to annoying in a hurry.

But a definite plus for the book are the fabulous relief engraved illustrations by Barry Moser. Something about the black and white and bold details complemented the story and setting incredibly well.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

There are a whole lot of conflicting images in that passage, aren't there? It's almost dizzying.