A box of books -- 12/19/12

When my brother visited me about a week and a half back, he brought me a box of books....

Some of you may recall me mentioning having read Jack London's The Sea-Wolf when I was seven years old (along with many other books by London and Edgar Rice Burroughs and Zane Grey, etc.) and will have guessed that these were some of Dad's books that had ended up in Charlie's house and he thought they might have some special meaning for me.
I read through Dad's books but perhaps the one that had the greatest impact on me was The Sea-Wolf. Oh, sure, there were some spooky scary scenes in Burroughs' Warlord of Mars (the 3rd in the series, but the first one I read), especially the beginning as John Carter went from the River Iss into the underground river beneath the Mountains of Otz and the creatures there, but I soon figured out that these were enjoyable scares, put there for the excitement of being scared, but The Sea-Wolf, oh this was adult scary stuff, not just physical threats but existential threats, psychological and emotional terror. Wolf Larsen, the violent and abusive ship's captain, and his philosophy that people are no different from bits of yeast floating in a vat, fighting for nutrients, fighting to survive.

Wolf Larsen and that book scared the crap out of me, so much so that more than six decades later I feel a bit of a chill about perhaps reading it again....

When I picked this one out of the box I was puzzled. The title did not at all ring a bell for me. Besides The Sea-Wolf, I could recall reading more of Jack London's novels -- The Call of the Wild and White Fang and A Daughter of the Snows, and The Scarlet Plague (although I don't think I read that until I was in junior high) as well as short stories such as "To Light a Fire," etc., but Smoke Bellew just didn't ring a bell. So late this afternoon I picked it up and began reading it, my reading seeming to confirm that I had not read it, but as I turned the pages things began to seem familiar, and by the time I reached page 28 I realized that I actually had read this book way back then. It was just that it was more of an adventure in the Yukon story rather than something as terrifying (to a kid) as The Sea-Wolf had been.

p.s. Thanks, Charlie...

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