RIP Farley Mowat, acclaimed Canadian author and environmentalist
May 8, 2014 | 2:25 pm
By Juli Monroe
Sorry Joanna if you were planning on writing this because he’s Canadian. I wanted to write it because he was one of my favorite authors as a child. Farley Mowat died yesterday at age 92, just days away from his 93rd birthday.
He was author of 45 books, many of them about nature, but the one I loved most is Never Cry Wolf, which was about Mowat’s experiences living among wolves at the request of the Canadian Wildlife Service. It’s a great book, and I’d highly recommend you read it, but that’s difficult as I’ll explain in a moment.
First a bit about Mowat. His books, while loved by readers, weren’t always as well-received by critics. Here’s a pretty scathing criticism of Never Cry Wolf (from Wikipedia).
In a 1964 book review published in Canadian Field-Naturalist, Frank Banfield of the National Museum of Canada, a former Canadian Wildlife Service scientist, compared Mowat’s 1963 bestseller to Little Red Riding Hood, stating, “I hope that readers of “Never Cry Wolf” will realize that both stories have about the same factual content”. Mowat responded to Banfield’s criticisms in a letter to the editor of the Canadian Field-Naturalist, and signed it “Mowat’s wolf Uncle Albert”.L. David Mech, a wolf expert, stated that Mowat is no scientist and, in all Mech’s studies, he had never encountered a wolf pack which primarily subsisted on small prey as shown in Mowat’s book.
While probably a valid criticism, I don’t know that I care. The book, and the others I read by him, were fantastic reads. They are a part of the reason I love writing and am a writer today. I think about passages from the book when I walk my dog. Few books have affected me as much or for as long. Consider them fiction if you will, but they are still worth reading.
Assuming you can get them. The Amazon link I provided above was the best I could find, and it has a 2-3 week lag time. A handful of his books are available on Kindle, and Never Cry Wolf isn’t one of them. A few months ago, I got the urge to read a couple of his books again and went looking for Kindle versions, to no avail. Sure, I found some pirate copies, but I didn’t want those (and didn’t download them). I was more than willing to buy them, if I’d been able to.
Isn’t it a shame that news of his death could pull in more readers to love his books, yet not be able to purchase them? Come on authors, agents and publishers. Let’s fix that problem with as many books as possible, as soon as possible.