Sunday, January 24, 2016

Paulsen, Gary. This Side of Wild.

Paulsen, Gary.  This Side of Wild.  Simon & Schuster  2015  120p  ISBN 978-1-4814-5794-1  ms/hs  Nonfiction  VG        

This is a memoir, a series of vignettes about Gary Paulsen’s relationships with animals.  The writing is terrific (as always), but the narrative is a bit choppy; for example, in Chapter 1, Gary seems to move from adventures in Wyoming to events that happened in Alaska in a very few pages, in a sort-of stream-of-consciousness manner, which this adult reader found a bit confusing.  It is not nearly as well-organized as My Life in Dog Years, but it will be enjoyable to people who love animal stories and fans of Gary Paulsen.  I believe it is geared more for older readers, because the concepts are more mature, with Gary ruminating on war, philosophical questions, and the nature of the relationship between man and beast.  The individual tales of animals are very interesting and will keep the reader’s attention, but there is an abruptness in the transitions between them that can be a bit confusing.  The last segment, on ravens, was different from the others, in that the ravens’ relationship with humans is adversarial rather than cooperative.  It didn’t fit with the theme of man’s kinship with other creatures, and yet it did demonstrate the intelligence of these birds.  Since this is an ARC, perhaps Paulsen is thinking of reworking the narrative to make it flow more easily and make his points clearer to younger readers.
Summary: This is a memoir, a series of vignettes about Gary Paulsen’s relationships with animals he has known, like Corky the poodle, Gretchen the mutt, and Josh, the dog we have already met in other books.     

Wild animals, Memoir                                        --Carol Kennedy

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