Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Review: Jack London, The Game (1905)

I sought out a copy of Jack London's boxing novel because I thought it might be an instance of naturalistic proto-noir, much like Frank Norris' magnificant
McTeague (1899). Having now read the book, I can report that it is, if nothing else, an instance of creative publishing: The Game is actually a short story that has been stretched through illustrations, typesetting, and good old-fashioned blank pages to appear to be 182 pages long. The man who designed this book could have gotten 50 pages out of the Gettysburg Address. Setting this disappointment aside, I did find The Game to be worth the surprisingly short time it took me to read it. The plot concerns boxer Joe Fleming and his sweetheart, Genevieve. They share an idealized young love, rather like Johnny Marr and Dorothy at the start of Cornell Woolrich's Rendezvous in Black (1948). Joe's attraction to the violence of boxing ("The Game"), however, lends the story an interesting vein of darkness. Grade: C+

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