Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The Complete Works of Jack London (a Kindle collection from O’Conner Books)
Not quite complete, but exceptional nonetheless
This collection is not quite the “Complete Works” it claims to be, but it probably contains 95% of London’s published writings, which is a great feat for an author so prolific. The most glaring omission is the short story collection On the Makaloa Mat, which contains some of London’s best Hawaii Stories like “Shin-Bones”, “The Water Baby”, and “The Bones of Kahekili”. Also absent are The Kempton-Wace Letters, which he co-wrote with Anna Strunsky, and The Assassination Bureau, Ltd., which was completed after his death. Since these two were collaborative works, it’s possible they may not be public domain, therefore their absence would be understandable. Other than that, all that’s missing are “minor” works: a few plays, some non-fiction journalism pieces, some of the stories he wrote during high school. None of his poetry is included. The novel The Star Rover appears under its alternate title, The Jacket. The short stories are arranged in the context of the collections in which they were originally published, which is good. There are four collections here that are not considered part of the official Jack London canon: Brown Wolf and Other Stories, A Collection of Stories, Stories of Ships and the Sea, and Tales of the Klondyke. These four collections contain mostly stories repeated from other collections, but they also have some obscure stuff not available elsewhere.
As far as ease of use is concerned, this collection could be more user friendly. There is an interactive table of contents which allows you to click on individual volumes, however each volume does not have its own table of contents. So if you click on The Strength of the Strong, for example, it takes you to the first page of the first story, but if you want to know the other six stories that are included in that volume, the only way you’re going to find that out is by scrolling through the entire volume. For an author who wrote so many short stories, it would have been useful to include some way of easily accessing individual stories, like an alphabetical index.
Overall it’s a fantastic collection of work by America’s greatest author. Downloading them all in one inexpensive chunk sure beats hunting for the lesser-known works in used book stores, libraries, or on ebay.
(To read about individual books contained within this Kindle volume, click on the “London Jack” tag in the right-hand column of this blog.)
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