2010: 22. The Call of the Wild

“Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.”

The Call of the Wild, Jack London

     Let me start with a couple of disclaimers.  First, a book that is about a dog, with almost no people, is just not my kind of book.  I remember, when I was younger, being taken to the movies with my cousin, only to find out that the film was Benjy The Hunted.  Even at age 8, I was firmly in the camp that didn’t want to spend 90 minutes with no dialogue, just watching a dog run around.  I had similar objections to The Incredible Journey, that super boring staple of elementary school reading.*  So I went into this book a bit of a skeptic, to be sure.

      Second thought.  There is no way no how this is one of the 100 best books of the century. Sorry, but I must once again note that To Kill A Mockingbird is not on the list.  You may not think Lee is Joyce, but my god, that book is more of a classic than this book about the domesticated dog who becomes one of the wolf pack.  This is not controversy - this is mere fact.

    Ok, having gotten that off my chest, I was actually pleasantly surprised by The Call of the Wild.  The writing is evocative - especially of what its like to be out in the Wild (emphasis London’s), and for the kind of book that I don’t really like, I have to concede that it’s a page turner.**  I found myself drawn into the story of Buck, super dog, future wolf, and his triumph over man and nature.  I definitely put this in the category of books I would never have read if I wasn’t plowing through this list, and that I am glad that I did. I’d recommend it, too - especially to say, young animal lovers who are maybe ambivalent about reading.  But better than In Cold Blood? Margaret Atwood? Etc.?  Nope.  It’s a sophisticated children’s book, not one of the top 100 novels of the century.

*Don’t get me wrong - I am an animal lover.  I treat my cats like people.  But I like books with dialogue.  And PEOPLE.

**Plus, its super short! Thanks, Jack!!


Date/Place Completed:  January 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017