Tag Archives: Jack London

Jack London On Adventure

jack

Jack London On Adventure –
Words Of Wisdom From An Expert Adventurer
Skyhorse Publishing – $12.99

The thought of work was repulsive. I didn’t care if I never settled down. Learning a trade could go hang. It was a whole let better to royster and frolic over the world in the way I had previously done. So I headed out on the adventure path again.

                                                                        ‘The Artist As Adventurer’

Obviously written during an era when adventure was a complete and all circumnavigating way of life, one which was undeniably, deeply instilled within the fibre of ones’ being – rather than subscribed to by those who merely dabble in misadventure over the weekend – the writer Jack London certainly lived the life.

A life of his own design that is; which, regardless of how you care to look at it, was in and of itself, commendable.

Indeed, throughout his unfortunately brief life, he remained a free spirit of which Jack London On Adventure – Words Of Wisdom From An Expert Adventurer is something of a literary window, as the above opening segment wonderfully illustrates.

As opposed to being a mere linear overview of London’s entire works, this handsome little book is devised in such a way that it more dabbles and regales upon certain eras of London’s literary prowess: ”This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost. But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.”

I have recently been asked to write the Foreword for a terrific new book on London entitled The Iron-Heeled Century: Rereading Jack London by the author, Anthony James; and amid my investigation(s), this is a fine and altogether brazen read – rather like the subject himself.

One which sheds oodles of light on an oft misunderstood, underrated writer (of whom George Orwell, among others, was a renowned fan).

David Marx

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The 1917 Bloodline

1917

The 1917 Bloodline
By Anthony James
Grosvenor Publishing House – £8.99

For such a small book, this most certainly traverses a wide expanse of John le Carre induced, Joseph Conradesque territory.

From love and lust the one minute, poetry and politics the next, espionage and empowerment the very next – The 1917 Bloodline weaves and bops and ducks and dives, as if a pugilist in (perplexed) pursuit of a wayward, tremulous catharsis. A catharsis of author Anthony James’ own design, which, although initially reticent, very soon becomes enveloped within that of the readers subliminal reckoning.

Indeed, the second chapter (of ten) already bequeaths the reader with an interior sense of political procrastination by way of prime protagonist, Alan Grahame (a middle-aged man who leads something of a rather clandestine life with an undeniable penchant for both whiskey and morality), silently exhorting: procrastinate now and by all means, panic later: ”Inside his thoughts he screamed: Don’t kick me again! Then gradually another voice asserted itself in his mind, so real that it might have been actually present as he wrenched at the twine around his wrists and gritted his teeth. In his mind a voice which was clipped and precise but gentle, tinged with an Eastern European accent said: The Party has a valid interest in watching all political developments in the part of Ireland occupied by British imperialism.”

In all, these 124 pages make for a concisely written novel by a fine author – whose previous books include The Happy Passion: A Personal View of Jacob Bronowski, Amputated Souls: The Psychiatric Assault on Liberty 1935-2011 and the most excellent Orwell’s Faded Lion: The Moral Atmosphere of Britain 1945-2015.

As mentioned at the outset of this review, The 1917 Bloodline invariably ticks many a box for many a reader of many a persuasion.

In the meantime, look out for what looks set to be another terrific book, Anthony James’ soon to be published The Iron-Heeled Century: Rereading Jack London.

David Marx