Friday, June 3, 2011

On "Love of Life" by Jack London (8219 words) ****

In a story that rivals "To Build a Fire" in subject matter but which stretches on much longer, London recounts the possible last days of a man injured in a fall in the snow. A burden now that he has a swollen ankle, his companion deserts him, and we get the benefits of the adventure story to follow--where to find food, how to make shoes from blankets and clothing, how to fend off hungry wolves waiting for you to die. The story is exquisite in detail, and one can't help but cheer the man on to the very end and hope, somehow, that he makes it back. Stories of extreme conditions would seem like easy pickings for great reading, but it's easy to overdo the hysteria. What I think makes this London story work is that he focuses so much on the external, and that external then begins to stand for the internal state of the man. It's a great read, reminiscent of films like Touching the Void, another great winter survivalist tale. Read the story here.


Short Story Slore said...

I read his "To Build a Fire" a couple months back - my first taste of Jack London. I look forward to reading this one next! Thanks for the link.

Short Story Reader said...

Some of London's stuff can be hokey, but if you like adventure material and material about men being tough, he's a good one. I haven't read "To Build a Fire" in years; I'm surprised you weren't exposed to it in high school. It used to be one the kids read.