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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lone Wolf

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….

15 comments:

Valerie said...

Good write-up, though I'm not sure if it has encouraged me to read the book or leave it. I read one of her books before but haven't been swayed to read more. Perhaps I should give it a go. I might be pleasantly surprised.

Out on the prairie said...

I feel i had read her all ready. I enjoy fiction and just finished a Jimmy Buffet book,"A Salty Piece Of Land".I needed something light and funny, really enjoying it.

Anvilcloud said...

I have seen her on the shelves but never tried her. SOunds like I *might* like her. Barbara Kingsolver is pretty good for weaving environmental themes into her storytelling.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Interesting question... I come down on the side of making the science as real and accurate as possible. Barbara Kingsolver comes to mind, but of course she is a trained scientist and she specializes in making a big scientific issue a major part of the story.

Carla from The River said...

Hi,
I have not read any of her work. Not sure that I will.

A question for you? Do you have any good book recommendations for boys age 15 and 13 regarding the assassination attempts on Hitler? or WWII in general?
Thank you - Carla

Shammickite said...

My beautiful DIL has read a lot of books by this author and she loves them, but I haven't tried them, maybe I should.
I've just finished "The Son of a Certain Mother" by Wayne Johnston, Canadian author. A book that I could not put down.

NCmountainwoman said...

Writing fiction does not give an author license to sloppy research. Nothing turns me off more. I think I'll pass on this one. Haven't been too impressed with the Picoult books I have read. (Admittedly only two of them.)

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Good question. I have finally gotten around to reading the well known "my sister's keeper by that author. Indeed, hard to put down and posing interesting ethical questions. As for the question regarding science, anything goes in fiction, but inside the world created by the author there has to be consistency. If the author pretends to real world science, the science has to be accurate. That is my 2 cents.

DJan said...

I've read all of her books and enjoyed them very much. Thanks for the great review! I agree that wolves are wonderful creatures. :-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have not read her books, I heard too many people say that she spins a good tale but lacks in the telling part so I have avoided her:)

Rose said...

I've read only one book by Picoult and was pleasantly surprised by it. But her subject matter is often depressing--the one I read was about a school shooting--and I've been shying away from depressing books recently. This one hits too close to home, as we have been dealing with my mother's deteriorating health the last few months and thinking about the very questions Picoult discusses. As for the science, I prefer fiction to be based on the facts, too. I see others mentioned Kingsolver, a good example. In fact, one of my favorite books in recent years was her novel "Flight Behavior." I recommend it, if you haven't read it.

Bubba Muntzer said...

That's a good question about the obligations of fiction writers. I never occurred to me.

We of course have the first amendment, so there's probably no legal obligation, but I don't think you meant that. The point you raise goes far beyond that. What's a person's moral obligation? What do they owe the society they are part of? What do they owe the writing craft? What do they owe science? What do they owe the truth?

Jodi Picoult might think she owes no one anything but an engaging story. A little slap upside the head in the form of a literary review might make her think again.

Linda said...

Interesting review. You pose some good questions.

Debbie said...

i am not a reader (memory issues) but with this great review, i feel like i read the book!! i am a lover of wolves/any wild animal!!!

Linda said...

Merry Christmas to you, dear Trout! I have read many books on the Holocaust (referring to the book in your last post), but the one you posted is one I have not read. I read a good one called "Under Two Dictators: Stalin and Hitler" by Margerite Buber-Neumann. It is an excellent book!