Quan Barry on 'White Fang'

Listen nowDownload file
Embed player

"White Fang" by Jack London is a classic outdoor adventure story about a wild wolf-dog's struggle to survive in the Yukon Territory during the 1890's Gold Rush. Writer Quan Barry read it for the first time at age 11 and learned just how powerful a book can be. 

My name is Quan Barry, and I'm the author of “We Ride Upon Sticks.” And the book that I'd like to talk about, that affected me quite a bit as a writer is “White Fang” by Jack London. I have to admit, I haven't read White Fang probably since I read it when I was in seventh grade. I was 11 years old. I have this memory of sitting in the house that I grew up in as a child. I had my own bedroom, it was tiny. It had a red rug, and I have this memory of lying on the floor, on my stomach, reading White Fang for seventh grade English.

For those of you who don't know, so “White Fang” is basically very similar to “Call of the Wild.” It's a book about a dog in the Yukon or somewhere in Alaska and the adventures that this dog has. The thing though, that I remember.

And again, I was 11 years old. [It was] many, many years ago, more than 30 years ago, 35 years ago or so when I read this book. I have a memory though, that it was the first book that made me cry when I finished it.

I can't even tell you what happened at the end. I barely remember. I'm like, "Does he live or die? I don't even know." I think White Fang, not be a spoiler, but it might be the kind of thing like, "Son of White Fang goes on," that kind of thing. But I don't really remember.

But I just remember crying, and I didn't realize that literature could do that to you, that you could read something, and then cry about it. It was such a new experience to me. So it's interesting that I remember that. I don't even remember the story itself. I just remember my reaction to it. And that's the reason why it stayed with me all these many years.