THE SUMMER OF JACK LONDON by Andrew J. Fenady

THE SUMMER OF JACK LONDON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the style of the most old-fashioned YA biographies or the most cornball Hollywood treatments: a fictionalization of Jack London's summer of 1896--when, at 20, he spent some time at home in Oakland after several years of seafaring/coastal adventures. Jack visits his beloved teacher Mr. Dodson (who'll soon expire in a tear-jerking deathbed scene), announcing his determination to ""write about things as they are."" Despite everyone's shock at his subject-matter, Jack types away in his book-strewn roomlet, writing an early version of The Sea-Wolf--a dramatization of his recent stint aboard a sealing ship under cruel, tyrannical Capt. Erik Diequest. He shovels coal, ten hours a day, to help support his ailing parents. And when Jack rescues posh stranger Philip Bainbridge from a gang of muggers, he meets Philip's well-born, sweet, genteel sister Felicity--falling madly, moistly in love. (Felicity feels likewise, adoring ""this man-child of many contrasts, whose lips trembled at the touch of hers but had lived openly with the sensuous Maimie."") Jack's courtship seems doomed, however--since it's sternly opposed by Felicity's snobbish mother, who exposes the secret of Jack's illegitimate birth. His first draft of the novel also comes to a bad end: the evil Capt. Diequest steals and destroys the manuscript, while failing in an attempt to shanghai the author. But the ending is upbeat nonetheless--as Jack sets off to the Klondike, ready ""to ignite a literary revolution"". . .with best wishes from Felicity. (""I hope. . . I hope you find what you're looking for."") The London of simplistic, romantic legend, with only a passing resemblance to biographical truth--dished up in a dumb yet likable blend of pulpy prose, B-movie dialogue, and young-hero clichÉs.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1984
Publisher: Walker