I occasionally wander off my reading track of nonfiction to try an author whose work I was aware of but had not read. Highly acclaimed novelist Jodi Picoult was one such instance. Her first book which I tried was Plain Truth. The book involved a murder in an Amish community, a female big city lawyer and the ensuing murder trial. It was a fascinating page turner with a few serious factual blips and some shaky editing. Still, the author is a story teller who can get you going. Overall, I enjoyed the book in part because we have a number of Amish neighbors. More recently I tried Picoult again thinking perhaps the previous books glitches had been an aberration…….
The book I just finished is Lone Wolf. Lone wolf Luke Warren studies wolf behavior and he leaves his already dysfunctional family for two years to join a pack in the Canadian wilderness and live with them. Yes, that’s the premise upon which the tale rests. And to add personal drama he returns to civilization to end up in a car crash with his daughter. He suffers a head trauma and ends up in a near brain dead coma. His past is revealed in alternating chapters from his published memoir about living with wolves.
Should Luke be kept alive by artificial means? Is that what he would want? Luke’s tween daughter and older runaway son disagree fiercely about the answers to these wrenching life or death questions. This is the deadlock that is at the novel’s center. Ms. Picoult is not afraid to speculate into the future in her novels. All this make we wonder about where to draw the line.
Do fiction writers have an obligation to ensure that the science they put into their novels is credible? Or does the creative license that writers enjoy mean that there's no such responsibility? What happens when a novelist explicitly notes that the work in question is based on trusted science, but scientists insist is it not? In this case it's a zoo, and Picoults “research” is based on a wolf setting in England with human habituated animals.
Yes its fiction and writers can write what they want but wolves are often judged in our world by myths and legends rather than facts and reality. Little Red Ridinghood still lives on as well as The Big Bad Wolf….
Wolves are magnificent animals whose true-life behaviors are described in a series of books by scientist David Mech. If you want to learn about wolves try him. If you want a interesting novel try Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult….
The New Yorker covers: July 2, 1932
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