|Submitted by arthurfrayn |
(Sep 12, 2007)
A terrific men's adventure story which takes place in a post apocalyptic setting. The novel seems to set itself almost antithetically to A Boy and His Dog. Where that novel is about rejecting the socializing process of marriage and the associated procreative sex, as emasculating and leading to zombification, Dickson views it as a necessary part of what's involved in becoming a man. You could say another title for this book could be A Man and His Wolf.
Dickson is less interested in telling a story about the collapse of society, and more about one man, and the wolf who befriends him, and in so doing, tunes him into the essentials of survival in this new world. There are painstaking descriptions of building simple weapons and shelters, and how much ingenuity might be required to survive something like injury in a wild environment. There's a rather extensive descriptive passage about a birth that's fairly impressive in it's completeness. It seems that Dickson wants to make a point about how much life would slow down in such a circumstance. He lingers long on simple and small things, and he has the descriptive talent to do it effectively.
In that sense it reminded me of classic mountain man books like the one about Liver Eating Johnson (the title escapes me, but it is the basis for the movie Jeremiah Johnson), or perhaps the more compelling parts of Knut Hamsen's novel of farm life,The Growth of the Soil.
And then there is the extensive research about wolves that has been pulled into the book to make the wolf character more credible.The wolf sort of functions as a familiar or animus, as the the central character who was a mathematics academic before the collapse, gradually comes to terms with the darker aspects of what it means to be both wolf and man, in order to survive.
Probably too slow and not prurient or violent enough for teens and under 25 to bother reading, but definitely great for older readers.
I found it a very satisfying, thoughtful and emotionally involving read.