The name stands for adventure.
Explorer. Social activist. Romantic. Self-educated genius. White Fang. Call of the Wild. Martin Eden. The Sea-Wolf. Generations worldwide have been thrilled by his tales, probably never realizing how true to life they really were. He did not imagine the hardships and brutality of life in the Yukon, on the high seas, or in the back alleys of Oakland. He lived them. Few men were his equal and only one woman ever fully captivated his heart. By the time he was forty, no American was more famous. And in the winter of 1915, the great writer set sail on one last adventure.
But in this story of that adventure, he is being hunted.
Hobart Bosworth an aging matinee idol and filmmaker is desperate for one more Jack London picture to save his career. Hollywood machinations have driven a wedge between him and his old friend. He has tracked Jack and his wife, Charmian, from the mysterious ruins of their once-magnificent Wolf House across the Pacific to the volcanic islands of Hawaii. The Jack London he finds here is a man half mad with visions, a man struggling with the ghosts of his past, the erotic temptations of the island paradise, and his own wolflike nature.
Now Hobart's original goal to save his studio has become a desperate struggle to save his friend and preserve the icon he has become. With or without Charmian London's help.
A romantic novel of sweeping passions and raw adventure set against an unforgettable, sultry backdrop, Jack London in Paradise vividly imagines the last year in the life of a legendary man nearly everyone knows about, but few actually know.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Paul Malmont works in advertising. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children. Please visit the author at www.paulmalmont.com. You can follow his blog postings at amazon.com or on Facebook.
Read an Excerpt
Los Angeles was freezing but Hobart Bosworth was drenched in his own sweat. His undershirt was plastered to his body and droplets ran like spring-fed creeks down his back. He had run down Spring to catch the little Central trolley, which was already trundling away from its most recent stop, nearly certain that Rhea Haines, one of the Famous Player starlets, but more importantly one of Rudisill's girlfriends, had seen him outside the Alexandria Hotel. As she was across the street and not on guard, as he was, he had spotted her first. The cab he had been hailing was more than a block away, and her motion indicated she was turning and would have seen him before he could escape in it. So he ran. He hadn't heard his name called out, which made him think that perhaps there was a slim chance he had slipped out of her sight. It was hard to tell. He was one of the tallest men in Hollywood, and he was certainly dressed like the movie star he was, in a tan wool suit. Normally a slender part of his vanity would have been pleased to have been noticed by someone he knew. But these times were extreme and he was desperate.
Gossip. That's what he was worried about. The path of gossip was like a lit fuse heading toward a keg of TNT. Or a snowball rolling downhill, gathering more snow. Or maybe a snowball made of TNT, he wasn't sure. Whichever it was, if she had seen him she would certainly gossip about it to Rudisill. Rudisill would tell Garbutt. Garbutt would tell Zukor. And his proverbial dynamite snowball would explode. Garbutt and Zukor, and probably Rudisill, all thought that he was in Arizona. Because that's what he had told them. When they found out he was still in Los Angeles they might find out where he was really going. Which could destroy everything he had worked to build.
As he reached for the brass rail of the trolley the thought crossed his mind that he should have given Rhea that part in Pretty Mrs. Smith that she wanted. Instead he had cast Fritzi Scheff as the eponymous heroine, after all, she was prettier. Maybe if Rhea had been cast she would have been so grateful that Hobart would fear no malice in her heart that would cause her to gossip about him. His actresses trusted him and he could trust them. There was a bond that formed. He knew how to make them look good and draw great performances from them, make them shine.
Rudisill, Garbutt, Zukor; these were powerful, rich men. More powerful than he even though he was a studio company owner and picture star. They were certainly wealthier. Wealth and power was what mattered to Rhea and other girls like her the ones who weren't going to get the big roles and become famous. The girls who were flooding into Los Angeles as if the dam holding back beautiful girls had burst somewhere just outside the town limits. She was looking out for herself the way a pretty girl with not much acting talent had to. That's how it worked out here in Hollywoodland and he couldn't blame her. He didn't have to like it or her. But he couldn't blame her. And she just hadn't been right for the part, after all.
His tortured lungs raged against the abuse. He had fought back against the years of tuberculosis with vigorous exercise, and the warm, dry California climate had helped immensely. But for some reason, running turned breathing into an agony akin to inhaling fire. He slid onto an empty bench and sat up against the window, closing his eyes. He focused on slowing his breathing down, the way he had been taught in the sanatorium back in Arizona, by inhaling through his nose and out through his mouth. With any luck the ache would soon recede. His eyes closed, he listened to the sounds of the city: the beeping of the automobiles, the grinding of the streetcar wheels on metal, the clip-clop of a horse-drawn delivery wagon, the murmurs of the other passengers near him. He could smell the city, too a familiar blend of dust and ocean, laced with a hint of orange. He never grew tired of the smell of Los Angeles. It seemed as if it was the fragrance of promise, and as he considered himself an optimist, whenever he caught a whiff of that particular blend, he always felt a little inward surge of forward momentum, a burst of hope. Even now, with threats of disaster hanging over him, he couldn't help but feel a little bit better. After all, he had a plan.
When he was finally able to inhale deeply and exhale through his mouth, he opened his eyes. The tall buildings of downtown, the Security Savings Bank, the Grosse Building, the Lankershim Hotel receded as the streetcar came up on the new auto-dealership district. After this, he rode past large tracts of undeveloped land interrupted by periodic eruptions of new small neighborhoods. If it weren't for the quality of the light, which was much brighter, this terrain could be Ohio, his boyhood home. It was at once attractive and repugnant.
He breathed a healthy-sounding sigh of relief as the streetcar bounced roughly onto the Electric Avenue line. The winter of 1915 had rolled in early and hard, and the orange trees had quickly been stripped of life and reduced to their twisted, gnarled bones. Hobart loosened his necktie and settled back against the rattan seat, letting the cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific dry his damp clothes. The more he pieced together the moments of the encounter separating it from his emotions the more confident he became that Rhea had not seen him. But that didn't change the fact that he still had to hightail it out of Los Angeles.
The trolley crested a hill, and from this vantage point he could see the sharp ribbons of glittering cobalt blue cut into the landscape just above the shoreline. It was a fascinating sight to Hobart. Only in Los Angeles, he thought. Only in a town in which the stock in trade was dreams could a man like Abbot Kinney have realized his vision of recreating the canals of Venice. And only in Los Angeles would anybody have ever thought it was a good idea. On close examination the genuine city of Venice, rising from its azure lagoon, was in and of itself a horrendous idea but at least its inspiration had been grounded in something resembling sense to provide a natural defense against marauders and easy access to the commerce that traveled by sea. But this California Venice had been built ten years ago as an adventure in speculative real estate development acres and acres plowed under and dug up, millions of dollars spent, all to create an interesting destination for the trolley. The imaginary made inevitable.
By the time he disembarked at the small station in front of the Lagoon Amphitheater opposite the amusement pier, only his damp collar remained as a reminder of his earlier mad dash. The thrill rides were shuttered for the season, the massive Ferris wheel, the twisting Automobile Races, the Mill Ride, and the Journey through Hades. A few old men dangled fishing lines from the pier into the calm waters beyond the surf. Hobart had never seen one fish caught from a pier in all the time he had spent on waterfronts in his life. But he always admired the optimism of the fisherman.
He turned his collar up and pulled his hat down against the chill wind that was blowing in off the ocean. Overhead a biplane bounced through the bright atmosphere, heading toward or coming from Ince Aviation Field in the distance. Behind him the imported Venetian gondolas tied to posts at the boathouse and grouped together like a log jam on the river thumped hollowly against one another. There were no lovers to ride today, nor gondoliers to serenade them.
Hobart walked east along what the residents referred to as the Grim Canal. The sea pumps that kept the lattice of carved waterways filled appeared to be under repair their natural state it seemed and the water was turning brackish with the waste from the settlement. It was one true thing, he noted, that Venice had in common with its namesake. He was grateful for the cool air. When the temperatures rose, so did the open sewer smell. Already there were community voices calling for filling in the canals and paving them under. He passed a flier drifting just below the surface of the water a call to rally against the Kaiser in the great war raging in Europe. There were always people calling for change of some kind or another pave Venice under or save Mother Russia all the same.
He made a left and took the bridge that crossed the canal past the shuttered summer cottages, over another bridge across the Altair Canal, until he reached the small cluster of bungalows on U.S. Island. At the door of one, nearly hidden behind the great ferns in the small front yard, he gave the knocker a few loud taps, then waited for the footsteps. Soon enough the door swung open. Willoughby Hollis blinked and squinted into the sudden sunlight, trying to focus his bloodshot eyes on the figure on his doorstep.
After a long look he nodded, smiled slightly, and said, "Hullo Bosworth." He took a step back and let Hobart enter. The stuntman smelled of juniper berries and strong pipe tobacco, and so did his small house.
"How have you been, Champ?" The lights were off and the curtains were drawn. Hollis shut the door with his left hand, keeping his right arm tucked tightly against his body.
"Better than ever," he replied, seemingly unaware of the spastic twitch his head gave as punctuation to his sentence.
"I was just over at the Alexandria looking for you. Allan Dwan's there rounding up every cowboy he can find for his new Fairbanks picture. The Good Bad Man."
Hollis shrugged with disinterest.
"Keepin' my head up," he replied, shuffling toward the kitchen. "Want some java? I got some on."
"Sure." He sat down in a club chair, recognizing it as one of the pieces he had used a few years ago when he had first started Hobart Bosworth Productions with the film The Sea Wolf. Willoughby had taken them away when the wear and tear began to show on film. Now the leather cover was cracked and the cotton stuffing was leaking out in tufts. Willoughby came back carrying two large clay mugs, more props that Hobart recognized these from his Canadian stories. Again, Willoughby kept his right arm close, even though it made holding the mug awkward. He handed Bosworth the other mug from his left hand.
"Busted rib?" Hobart gave a slight indication to Willoughby's right side.
"Ribs," he said with a groan as he lowered himself into the club chair's twin on the other side of the small coffee table. "Three of 'em." His head snapped spastically again and he grinned, revealing the bloody gap between his incisors. "A rough shoot."
He was lying. Hobart knew that if Willoughby had been injured in a fight scene that he would have heard about it on the grapevine. His old friend's injuries were not the result of a staged bar fight gone out of control and they weren't from a fall off a horse. Willoughby had been picking up money at the Friday night fights.
Hobart had met Willoughby in a match in Chicago years earlier when they were both in their early twenties before Hobart had heard the call of the stage lights. Willoughby was the more experienced of the two, and slightly bigger. But the difference then, as it was now, was that Willoughby seemed to like the punishment of the ring and used it to fuel his combat, whereas Hobart avoided pain at all costs by striking earlier and faster. It was one of the reasons why Hobart's nose remained straight, and long, and handsome, while Willoughby's was spread across his face like the flattened mesas in Monument Valley. It was also one of the reasons why he had been, at least at one time, one of the most in-demand stuntmen in town.
In their first meeting, as in their second and third, Hobart had left the bigger man drooling on the canvas and fumbling for his mouthpiece. To Willoughby, the only man he could respect was one who had whupped him, which meant that he respected very few men. To those he did, his loyalty was deep and faithful and always earnestly surprising. When Hobart had succumbed to the lure of the movies, his friend left the fight and rodeo circuits behind to join him. As Bosworth's star had ascended, so did his need for a stunt double. Willoughby's physique was enough like his that he could pass on film. Hobart's hope was that there was still enough of that resemblance now for him to fool another more perceptive and less forgiving audience.
"I'm hoping what brought you out here was some of that money you owed me," Willoughby said, the missing teeth turning his "s" sounds into sputtering lisps.
"To my recollection we're all square. The lawyer that kept you from going to jail on a drunk and disorderly didn't come cheap."
"I'd have taken my pinch. At least I'd a had some of my life savin's waitin' for me when I came out."
"You made an investment in my company, same as others have."
"And when's that gonna start payin' off for me again exactly?"
"You know, it's not a sure thing, show business. We're doing about as well as anybody else. But the houses take their share, and the distributors, and then there's equipment and the Teamsters."
"And you haven't had a hit since Sea Wolf."
"My pictures do well."
"But you haven't had a hit in two years. And hits pay the bills. And pay back investors. So I haven't got my money back." He rubbed his left hand over his right side.
"There's a gig," Hobart said. "A good one."
"So. So what's the gig? I don't know if you could tell by lookin' at me, but I ain't in shape for fallin' down right now. Or much of anything else."
"It's a part," he replied. "A real part."
Willoughby laughed. "Acting? I'd rather fall off a roof. You can't put this mug on film. You'd scare away the audience. We're trying to make money, remember?"
"It's a part you can play. I know you'll be good at it."
"What is it? The part?"
"I need you to play me."
"That's gonna be some kind of picture."
"It's not a picture. I need you to move into my house and pretend you're me."
"Over in Westlake? And give up all this? Okay."
"Listen to me. There's more to it than that."
"I said okay."
"Hang on, Champ. I've been putting it out that my tuberculosis is back. I've been out to Arizona for some treatment and now I'm shutting myself in to recuperate."
"You ain't sick?" Willoughby drew back slightly.
Hobart shook his head. "No. But you were right about needing a hit. In fact, we need a hit real bad. Birth of a Nation big. But without the troubles. One hit will put us in great shape. Hobart Bosworth Productions will be the going concern in town. Bigger than Biograph. Bigger than Famous Players. There are people who know that. People who want a piece."
"Something like that."
"Jesus, Bosworth. When are you going to realize that you're just an actor, not a businessman?"
"I have a plan and I need your help. I need for people to think that I'm still in town."
"Where are you going to be?"
"Will you do it or won't you?"
"Well, hell, brother! I already said I'd do it."
"So you'll lay low and let people think it's me holed up in my home?"
"With this face the way it is right now it's just as well I stay indoors."
Hobart stood up and fished for his keys. "You're the only one who knows. I've had to let the servant staff go." Willoughby, taking the keys, shook his head at the word "servant." "The larder and bar are fully stocked. There's everything you need plus five hundred dollars in cash in an envelope in the desk in my study." He didn't want to mention that the sum amounted to a little more than half of his overall current worth; the rest he carried on him. If his plan worked as he hoped then the money would be flowing again soon. "If anyone calls you just answer the phone, sound like me sick, and tell them to go away. Don't let anyone in at the gate. But let yourself be seen by passersby and delivery boys at the head of the path."
"How long will you be away to the north?"
"Only a week or so, I hope." He heard the distant buzzing of the biplane again. He hoped his gear had arrived at the airfield safely. He'd had to use a courier service that wouldn't recognize his name instead of the regular studio messenger. He would know soon enough; a quick glance at his pocket watch showed that he was due to meet his charter in half an hour. "You'll do it?"
"How many times do I have to say I'll do it? I'll do it."
"Okay. You'll go today?"
"As soon as I wrap up my affairs."
"Relax, chum," Willoughby said with a horrifying grin. "I'm on my way already."
Hobart opened the door and the brightness startled him. He had grown accustomed to the darkness of Willoughby's home. He felt Willoughby moving up behind him.
"What's your big plan for getting a hit? What are you going to do?"
Hobart Bosworth watched the small red plane on the horizon head in for a landing. "I'm going to catch a wolf."
Copyright © 2008 by Paul Malmont
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Paul Malmont. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Set in the bygone tropical paradise of Hawaii where Jack London retreated from Hollywood in his 40th and final year, Jack London in Paradise concerns the conflict between a writer besieged by demons and addiction, and his former friend, a Hollywood filmmaker, actor, and enthusiastic director of Jack London film adaptations, Hobart Bosworth.
Eager to disprove the slanderous accusations made by crooked Hollywood producers and desperate for a new property from London, Bosworth hunts him down in Hawaii to set things straight and offers Jack the chance to make more money than he can dream of—and all he has to do is write a book exclusively for the screen.
But what starts as business quickly unfolds into something much richer, as love, sex, mythology, art, and London’s deteriorating health find Hobart attempting to do more than simply preserve his friend’s career—he must save Jack London’s life.
A romantic novel of sweeping passions and raw adventure set against an unforgettable, sultry backdrop, Jack London in Paradise vividly imagines the legend of a legendary man nearly everyone knows about, but few actually know.
Paul Malmont, with sharp prose and deep care for his characters, breathes life into this work of historical fiction, imagining the final days of the literary legend of Jack London.
Questions for Discussion
1. The happenings in Paradise are expressed through shifting third person narration, moving from the indirect perspective of Hobart to Charmian to Jack and ultimately returning to Hobart. Whose view did you feel most connected to? Which character was easiest to relate to? Who demanded the most sympathy/pathos?
2. What did you make of Jack’s mythologizing his own life? Do you see parallels between his iconic literary status and the last ditch efforts of the betrayed King Kamehameha? Did Dr. Homer or Mano’s relayed mythologies help frame Jack’s life? (Consider Gjöll, The Twilight of the Gods, The Fenris Wolf, and Dr. Homer’s explanations, especially on page 197, of mythology).
3. Discuss the relationships and love that appear in the book. From the highly emotional and unconditional (Jack and Charmian), to the purely physical (Hobart and Alice, Hobart and Charmian, Charmian and the stable hand), and the surprisingly spiritual (Jack and Leialoha), love takes on an expansive and non-exclusive form in Paradise. What did you think of each relationship? Are Charmian’s late-revealed methods and motivations justifiable by love? Was she his true Mate-Woman?
4. Discuss the nature of curses in the book. (Specifically, the superstitions surrounding Plume and Pele). Do you believe that Jack carried the curse of Plume? Or that Hobart subsumed the curse of Pele’s tear from the sailor? Were either of them free of these demons by the book’s end?
5. The incomparable Jack London is the nucleus of Paradise. Most of the narrative drama can be attributed to people’s reactions and perceptions of the literary legend. Though holding an undeniable power over the cast, Jack is in a constant state of deterioration, weary and ailing from his various afflictions and poisonous medications. Did you find him to be a powerful being? Did you find him at all emasculated or robbed of his near-legendary tenacity?
6. Whose baby do you think Leialoha is carrying? Whose do you want her to be carrying?
7. Dr. Homer talks of the nature of myth, stating, “...all of mythology is rooted in the concept of transformation. Of moving from one thing to another, from one state to another, from one plane of existence to another” (237). What transformations do you see take place in the book? Who seems to evolve or change the most? Do any transcend their own status quo? (Consider Jack, Charmian, Hobart, Mano, Major Domo, Nakata, and Leialoha.)
8. Discuss the fires that devastate both Wolf House and the Before Eden production. Consider the losses and surprising freedoms that come with both tragedies. Do you think the fires are disasters or disguised blessings?
9. Much of the book speaks to lost Hawaiian tradition and the vestiges of native participation in the old ways. (Especially through Mano and the echoing of his kahuna, and the pithy and graceful dialogue of Leialoha.) What have you learned of Hawaiian history and belief? Discuss the mostly-American characters’ participation and mimicking of these mores and customs. (Jack’s curative journey to Mano’s kahuna, Hobart and Jack’s swim to shore, and the purging of the tragedy of Joy by Jack and Charmian at the secluded birthing stones.)
10. At the end of the novel, with Jack succumbing to illness and Hobart’s feet wrapped in the bones of dead birds, what are your final views of Paradise? What do you make of Jack entrusting The Liberation to Hobart? Could you see Major Domo on the crest of a wave?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. This piece of historical fiction involves one of the most venerated and prolific American writers of the early 20th century. Read any one of his masterpieces (such as The Sea Wolf, White Fang, or Call of the Wild) and compare the narration and syntax to this imagined insight into London’s psychology and motivations.
2. Charmian London wound up writing a book on Jack’s life, which was eventually adapted into a film by Ernest Pascal (starring Susan Hayward and Michael O’Shea). Watch the film and juxtapose the cinematic portrayal of his life with this literary version. Consider the parallels and differences.
3. Refer to http://www.jack-london.org/02movielist.htm for a comprehensive list of Jack London novels and stories that have been interpreted theatrically. Watch any number of these films. Taking into consideration that much of Hobart’s motivations are to translate Jack’s masterpieces for the screen, see how the real-life adaptations stack up.
4. Paul Malmont received much acclaim for his debut novel, Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. Read a review of it here: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/reviews/2006-06-19-chinatown-death-cloud_x.htm and use his first foray into interpretive fiction/narrative history as a companion piece.
5. For those with the means, the time, or the enthusiasm, escape to Paradise (the Hawaiian Islands), and visit some of the Hawaiian sites traversed within the text. At the very least, find peace and enjoy the warm kiss of the sun!
A Conversation with Paul Malmont
1. Has Jack London always inspired you? How did your feelings about him change throughout the course of your research and writing this novel?
I’m a relatively recent convert to Jack London, having rediscovered him only about a dozen years ago. Like many people I’d only read him when I was younger and even then only what I call the “dog stories.” Once I read John Barleycorn, though, I was totally hooked by the incredible life this man had lived, and how he had poured all his adventures into his writing. Throughout the work my admiration and respect for him as a writer only grew.
2. This novel obviously required an extensive amount of research and submersion into the life and literature of a legend. How familiar are you with Jack’s catalogue? What was the research process like for an undertaking of such breadth?
Well, now I’m an expert, but I certainly wasn’t when I started. I began by reading some of Jack’s more well-known works that I wasn’t familiar with (The Iron Heel, Martin Eden, The Star Rover), then some biographies, then Charmian’s writings, and by that time I had a pretty good impression about who Jack was and what the story was going to be. At a certain point I had to stop reading and start writing but there was still a tremendous amount of Jack’s writing to go through. So as I was writing I began listening to audiobooks.
In addition to the reading research I also got materials from the Huntingon Library which has a collection of London papers and some helpful curators. I visited San Francisco, Oakland, Glendale, and Hawaii for on-location research (I’ve been to Alaska a couple of times so I didn’t need to go back). All of it came together on the page.
3. Though a work of fiction, one might walk away from the book feeling as though they’ve acquired a certain understanding of the literary master’s psychology. What advice would you give readers in terms of taking this book at face value? How did you negotiate between staying true to your research and interpreting Jack’s personal conflicts?
I would love for readers to come away with an appreciation for the life of Jack London but I don’t want anyone to think for a minute that this is a definitive biography of the man. The way I think of it is that I’ve created a fictional character who happens to be named Jack London, who shares certain biographical and character traits with a real man named Jack London. I’ve explored London’s life through fiction in order to address some of the controversies, paradoxes, and mysteries of that life.
In order to negotiate between fact and fiction I have to look at what’s known about London’s life and look for gaps where plausible events could take place. I know where he ends up, so I’ve got to plot characters and events that move him toward that ending and make it seem like destiny.
4. Have you been to Hawaii? Do you consider it Paradise?
I spent a month on Oahu with my family doing research for this book. It is certainly a Paradise. An expensive Paradise. But honestly, Paradise really is wherever I am with my family and we’re laughing.
5. There is a certain sense of emasculation and infantilism with Jack, from his medical afflictions to his impotence to his nearly unbreakable obstinacy towards his own whims and desires. How do you perceive his masculinity and power? Do you consider Jack more of a Wolf or a cub?
I think Jack’s a wolf in captivity of his own making. I thought that the idea of taking someone who was known for being such a manly writer, then deconstructing his machismo and then rebuilding it again was interesting as a character arc.
6. Again on the notion of vast research, what was the process for amassing information and eventually relaying traditional and “native” Hawaiian lore?
Much of my Hawaiian material had to be gleaned from academic books written over the past century. I took a less is more approach which is to say that though the book may appear to be steeped in ancient lore, there really are only a few instances, occurring at the perfect moment, which create the illusion of a wealth of information. It’s important to note that I never try to let the esoteric information get in the way of a great story!
7. What is your favorite Jack London book? What is your favorite instance of a cinematic interpretation of any of his stories?
I was really surprised by how great Martin Eden was. It was full of passion and fear and ambition – really great. I got to see Hobart Bosworth’s silent production of it at the Library of Congress where the last print exists.
The version of White Fang starring Ethan Hawke is a pretty exciting film that captures a lot of the best qualities of the story.
8. What is your view on love throughout the text? As a reader, one might be inclined to question the relationship between Jack and Charmian and Hobart and Mano and Leialoha. Do you consider Mate-Man and Mate-Woman’s love to be unshakable? Do you intend for the reader to walk away with a definitive answer as to the identity of the father of Leialoha's baby and the nature of Jack’s death?
I think understanding love is one of the great challenges of life and exploring it through art is one of the many ways we come to know about it. The rap on Jack and Charmian was that they had a love for the ages but the truth was that the marriage wasn’t perfect and did have its difficulties, which was interesting to write about it.
As for the mysteries as to whether Jack ever fathered a son outside of his marriage, and how he died, I only wanted to put out some character-based plausible theories. What the reader decides is up to them.
9. What inspired you to delve into the life of “The Wolf Hunter”? From where was the idea for this story born?
I needed to create a story that was at once something that was plausible that London could have written himself and could serve as a not-too-heavy-handed metaphor for London’s life. I don’t draw too much attention to it but the idea of someone who runs with the wolves is a creative analogy to Jack and his work.
At the same time the idea of an America Mowgli who becomes the leader of a pack of wolves is one that I’ve been thinking of in the back of my head for a decade or so now. I decided to donate it to this cause because it felt right.
10. Do you apply Jungian ideas or various mythologies to your own writing? Do you use it as a lens for books that you read/write?
I came to Jung and his theories, as many current writers probably did, through the works of Joseph Campbell who applies a lot of Jung’s theories to mythology. I find that I constantly return to The Hero with a Thousand Faces to find inspiration or solve a problem. My first two books have been about exploring the creative process and having Jung and Campbell by my side to help me navigate the symbols, archetypes and various states of mind and soul has been essential.
11. Are you working on another novel? If so, is it also grounded in historical fiction?
My next book will be The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. It’s a sequel of sorts (though not in the way people might expect) to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. It is also the conclusion to the end of what I call my Imagination Trilogy. If the first book, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril was about the redemptive power of the imagination, and Jack London in Paradise is about the destructive power of imagination, then The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown will be about testing the ultimate limits of imagination.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a page-turner that takes you back to a time when writers were larger than life (not pale, bien pensant intellectuals mildly beseeching Oprah Winfrey's favor), film actors were gods (not scruffy malcontents you might stumble over in Starbucks), a popular book or movie was a phenomenon passionately shared not by many but by everyone, and the farthest shores of America had mysteries still waiting to be discovered.
In "Jack London" and "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril," his first novel, Malmont shows a real gift for delving into the lives of the founders, and founding myths, of our popular culture and bringing them to life in new and freshly entertaining ways.
"Jack London" in particular is a must for fans of that author's work. And if you don't know anything about "The Call of the Wild," "The Sea Wolf," or London's other stories, after reading "Jack London," you'll want to.
Parts adventure, history, romance, mystery, drama, and travelogue, 'Jack London in Paradise' is a beautiful and sweeping novel. Malmont has cleverly constructed his work of fiction, drawing us in by slowly revealing his larger-than-life characters' intricate motivations through a backdrop of action and exotic locales. We become immersed in the their triumphs and tragedies, which are considerable to say the least. The richness of Malmont's historical detail and cinematic storytelling is irresistible and unforgettable.
If you were a fan of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril then there's a lot to love here as well. At it's core both novels transcend their pulp trappings and become literature in their own right by virtue of their explorations of masculine American myth-making. There's also an attractive self-awareness and post-modern "meta" element in that each novel is a writer writing about writers.
Jack London in Paradise is an open love-letter to one of America's first literary giants (warts and all), the birth of Hollywood (warts and all), and perhaps surprisingly Hawaii (truth and fiction) as well. Malmont's skill as a visual writer is apparent throughout the book whether he's describing gorgeous vistas, people changed by success and failure, deeply romantic scenes, or the flicker of film against a backdrop of nautical chaos. This is cinema on the page. Read it. Watch it.
I'd always been a fan of Jack London's writing but never payed a lot of attention to the man himself. Until now. Malmont does a fantastic job of bringing the reader into the world and mind of one of the greatest American writers, through the eyes of his closest associates. I absolutely loved Malmont's first novel (The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril) and when I picked up this one I was expecting more of the same swashbuckling pulp craziness. What I got instead was a quieter, gorgeously written account of London and examination of friendships and familial relationships. The interaction between London and his wife is remarkably well-covered, as are all the other relationships shown involving a man who was truly bigger than life. Malmont continues his mastery of writing locations here with a ship voyage to Hawaii and then the islands themselves. This is one hell of a sophomore effort and I look forward to what's next.
Malmont gives us another historically rich adventure after his first runaway hit "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril." In this second effort, Malmont digs into his characters - particularly Jack London, a writer we know best through his novels, but about whom I personally knew little about. London apparently spent a lot of time in Hawaii and the novel unfolds in this unique natural setting - many of my favorite passages brought out the inherent mystique that these islands hold for anyone who has been lucky enough to visit them. It's particularly nice to see Malmont growing into a more mature writer as his comfort with delving into his characters becomes evident. I'm personally attracted to novels with active plots as well as moments of introspection from the characters and Malmont seems to be carving out territory for himself in this regard. I'm looking forward to seeing what Malmont writes next.