Friday, January 30, 2009

Walking with Jack

I never read Jack London when I was growing up. My impression was that books by authors like London, James Fenimore Cooper and Booth Tarkington were 'boy books'. Plus, I was not interested in books about animals (sorry all you Black Stallion fans). So it wasn't until my short story class read “To Build a Fire” that I was first exposed to London's writing. I decided to load the story onto my Ipod and listen as I walked, so I have some advice for you if you plan do the same.

First, know where you're going. I was walking on a familiar path so there was no chance I would get lost, but there's about 30 minutes of my walk that I simply can't recall. In my mind I was walking through Yukon wilderness with a man and a dog. Second, dress warmly. In the story the temperature is 75 below, so even though it was in the mid-50's in San Francisco I was certain that my fingers were getting frost-bitten. Third, slow down. If I had been reading this story I would no doubt have been racing ahead, skipping words or even paragraphs, to find out what happened. But since I was listening instead of reading, I kept walking faster, trying to hurry the man and dog along to the end of the tale. But the real pleasure comes from savoring London's stark prose, from allowing this thrilling story of man versus nature to unfold at its own elegant pace.

This story in its entirety is available at several online sites, including The World of Jack London. Or you could download it from iTunes and go for a walk.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't we talk about reading The Call of the Wild as a follow-up to reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle?