Friday, November 25, 2011

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

After a brief discussion of Faulkner's prose, a friend recommended that I give Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf a try as an example of straightforward storytelling. So on a post-Thanksgiving Black Friday morning outside under a cool gray sky I did just that.

Not bad. It's a nice tale of a Canadian government biologist in the early 60s who's sent into the arctic to study wolves, at the time thought to be a scourge needing eradication. The book opens with a chapter or two of his experiences as a new government employee that left me with impressions of Catch-22 and then transitioned to a Dave Barry like humor as his expedition got started.

After that, and with all due respect, it impressed me as a good story for school kids. It has the (if you'll pardon the pun) lone wolf lead character who's distancing himself from authority as he finds that man, not the wolves, are the true problem. It's got the adventure aspect of being alone in the wilderness and confronting these beasts. And it's got enough scat and sex references to keep a student satisfied. Contributing to my impression is the fact that it reminds me of some of my childhood fiction like Paddle to the Sea and some movie about a lone guy who builds his own cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere.

After finishing the book, I learned two interesting things. The book was made into an Oscar-nominated film in 1983. And there's apparently a bit of controversy about how much of the book is true versus a work of fiction. Imagining the movie version of Never Cry Wolf inevitably made me think of the documentary Grizzly Man - which I recommend despite the fact that it's a sad and disturbing look at a flawed main character who whose naivete is ultimately and finally shattered.

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