Jack London: An American Life

Earle Labor. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-0-374-17848-2
This engrossing biography paints a sympathetic (though not uncritical) portrait of London’s dynamic ambition and energy. Born in San Francisco in 1876 to an impoverished single mother, London (White Fang) took up factory work to support his household while still a child, and by age 18 had worked as an oyster pirate, sailor, and rail-riding hobo. Omnivorous reading and sporadic education fueled his desire to write, and a year spent surviving the Yukon Gold Rush (1897–1898) provided him with inspiration for his earliest nonfiction and fiction. As rendered by Labor (The Portable Jack London), London’s official biographer and curator of the Jack London Museum in Shreveport, La., London was a complex and often contradictory individual—a writer who turned every experience into literary fodder; who disciplined himself to produce 1,000 words per day; and whose by-his-bootstraps lifestyle fueled his devotion to socialism and social justice. But London’s enthusiasms also had their dark side: he was a reckless spendthrift who had to churn out mountains of copy for pay to stay ahead of his creditors; he was an incautious celebrity whose public exploits often made him tabloid fodder; and he was a free spirit who could be self-destructive at times. Here, London emerges as a rugged adventurer with a soft heart, and a larger-than-life character who might have figured as the hero in one of his own brawny bestsellers. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 461 pages - 978-0-374-53491-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-4675-6
Ebook - 179 pages - 978-0-8057-1830-0
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-0-374-71098-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-6675-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-6468-4
Open Ebook - 480 pages - 978-1-4668-6316-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1675-9
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