THE CALL OF THE COINCIDENCE

At the tail end of March my library cooperated with the Milwaukee Public Library’s Big Read celebration of The Call of the Wild by Jack London.  Although we were disappointed our young adult discussion only attracted one reader, our adult version proved lively and garnered the single young adult. 

Within our discussion of London’s great adventure tale, our group spent some time on the story of Hal, Charles and Mercedes, the ill-prepared trio who are denied Buck’s services and suffered the fatal consequences.  Not having the knowledge needed to survive in Alaska’s wilderness is one of the underlying messages of London’s story.

How ironic that this month’s staff reader’s advisory title was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  Here is the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who took London’s The Call of the Wild as inspiration when he decided to hike out into the Alaskan wilderness.  Ultimately he discovered, as did London’s trio, that it takes more than an overriding interest in your obsession to live through the experience.

Book groups should consider combining these two stories into one discussion.  Besides the issue I raised, many other discussion points can be found within both texts. 

Lastly, if you would like to combine it with a third book about someone who did it the hard, but right way, you can refer back to my recommendation of The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell in my column called Anything Can Kill You from January 8, 2009.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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