Friday, June 1, 2012

The Portable Jack London, edited by Earle Labor

“Desert Island” London
I'm a big fan of London, and have (so far) read probably 2/3 of his published work. I always prefer, when possible, to read his stories in their original collected volumes, rather than in the many “greatest hits” collections of his work. This volume is the exception to that rule. Earle Labor, a renowned London scholar, has put together the ultimate “desert island” volume of London’s work. All of the best stories are here, as well as an excellent collection of his non-fiction writing, letters, and biographical material. The Call of the Wild is also included in its entirety. Unfortunately, other excellent novels are not represented here, but that’s understandable due to space concerns. Labor provides a detailed chronology of London’s life, and an introductory essay that puts these varied works into context. The result is not merely a showcase of London’s best work, but a volume that gives an excellent overview of the man’s life, the stages in his literary career, and the development of his politics and philosophy. For diehard London fans, if you can only fit one book in your carry-on bag, this is a great volume to have with you. For those who have never read London before, this book makes a great introduction to the man and his art.
(Published by Penguin as part of their Portable Library series.)

Stories in this collection:
To the Man on Trail
In a Far Country
The Law of Life
A Relic of the Pliocene
Nam-Bok the Unveracious
To Build a Fire (1902)
Love of Life
All Gold Canyon
The Apostate
To Build A Fire (1908)
The Chinago
Koolau the Leper
Good-by, Jack
The Strength of the Strong
A Piece of Steak
The Madness of John Harned
The Night-Born
Told in the Drooling Ward
The Mexican 
The Red One
The Water Baby
The Call of the Wild (complete novel)
Also selected nonfiction, letters, and a chronology

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