Friday, April 13, 2012
L is for London
For this, my third year doing the challenge, I am going literary. For every letter of the alphabet I will talk about a book, an author or a character from fiction or myth that made an impression, was inspirational, or caused me to think.
Jack, that is. Jack London. It's not like I haven't written about him before. I have. I mean, I've already mentioned The Call of the Wild under D for Dogs.
I give Jack London credit for showing me the power of words. It was his words, at the end of The Call of the Wild, that made me cry for the first time. I was about ten. They still make me cry.
As an illegitimate child born in 1876, he really was a rather remarkable person. Before the age of 19, when he returned home to Oakland to go high school, he had pirated oysters, helped to capture fish poachers, gone sealing in the Pacific, and been a hobo traveling around the country. A thirty-day stint in prison was the catalyst that turned him towards education and a career in writing. He lived the stories he wrote, which is probably why when I first read them I felt like I was right there in the middle of a snow storm, or on a ship in the middle the ocean.
There have been rumors he was a womanizer, a drunk, a plagiarizer. He was none of those things. He was, like every human being, complicated and contradictory. When he died of kidney failure in 1916 at the tender age of 40, he was already one of the most widely read authors in the world. One wonders what else he might have written. Considering the short time he had, he was quite prolific.
This is his cabin in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, built in 1898.
Because the cabin was of historical interest both to Canada and California, an identical cabin was built in Oakland using half of the logs from the original cabin.
Do you have a favorite Jack London story or character?
L is London Other L influences: Lost Horizon by John Hilton the first massed produced paperback book, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, Lao Tsu
Happy Birthday, Stan! My sweetie.