Thursday, May 19, 2011

On "Finis" by Jack London (6835 words) ****

I wouldn't have expected something this brutal to have been written so early in the twentieth century, and not from the likes of Jack London. Most of the time, London's characters cling to life desperately if that's what's called for. Most of the time, if a London character is a rogue, there's something redeeming about him, something rather fun. He may be a crook, but he's good hearted, and the other people in the story know it. Not so here. In "Finis" a man sets out, like some twisted Cormac McCarthy character, to kill a party of travelers, any travelers, that happen down the road in front of him. It's them or him, he figures, and if it's death we're talking about, it might as well be them. This is a story of survival, not just against the brute forces of nature but against the brute forces of man's earnest desire to save the self at any cost. Read the story here.

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