The Call of the Wild: Revisited
I found violence not in Hemingway’s wars; I found shadow not in The Heart of Darkness. I found them in The Call of the Wild – a thick, black goop of pure, animalistic evil. I found them in the hearts of dumb sleigh-dogs and dead trees and snow, blacker and thicker still in the hearts of men – thieves, murderers, slavers – where it seeped out from. I found evil in Jack London’s pen, dripping into a Klondike winter.
Buck’s life in the Judge’s home was of safety and peace – of love and affection, of basking in the warmth of the “sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley”. Under the Judge’s care, Buck grew healthy and handsome, full of life. A traitorous servant deceived and sold him as a slave in the Klondike gold rush, turning his life upside down. Buck found himself toiling in the freezing death under the tyranny of the master’s club and the thirsty glare of cannibalistic dogs.
Our hero, Buck, is a dog. While London’s genius portrays him as sentient and intelligent, it’s London’s enduring love for dogs that brings Buck into humanity.
An Annual Review
November 2009: You step into the open air for the first time in four months. Your mother insists on driving you to the beach. When you ask if you can put The Best of The Smiths in the CD player, she flares her nostrils at you. Once you reach the beach, you watch the seagulls swoop and climb through the sky, their squawks echoing in the air. The harsh sunlight glitters on the sea, and the sand feels warm between your fingers despite the autumn chill. Your smile is genuine.
October 2009: The man comes to open your eyes. The light burns against them, veins bursting and running across your vision. He tells you that it is nearly time, but you do not know what he means. You read your favourite childhood books because they are all you can find – Alice in Wonderland, Watership Down, Winnie The Pooh. As you read, a warm feeling spreads across your chest that you have not felt for a very long time. You tell the man about this feeling. He quickly writes something in his folder.
The Rum Mermaid
I am nothing but a wisp of smoke
that blends with the unending clouds, ashes
scattered and trodden on
at one with the soil. Solitude
creeps like a thread of cotton
in my heart’s gears—like screams,
you try to muffle
but your neighbours can still hear.
The fist of sunset in my pocket is running out,
soon I will have no golden coins
to pay for my blind desires. Staggering
through the fields of lavender and chamomile
I try to grab onto the last strands of autumn
but that too, eventually fade away
till all that’s left is a bouquet of psychotic tundra.
The excerpts displayed on this page are taken from the pieces that have won the most recent Cascade Aspiring Writers Contest in the last academic year within each of the following
categories respectively: essays, fiction, and poetry. For more information about the Cascade Aspiring Writers Contest, click here.