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Jack London still making news

  • The large, iconic oak tree looms over to the London Cottage in Jack London State Park on Friday, April 19, 2013. The tree, which Jack London often sat under, will be felled later this year because it is diseased and in danger of falling over. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Author Jack London remains such a powerful presence in American literature that even 97 years after his death, he has no trouble making news.

The novelist and journalist's legend remains especially strong in Northern California. Before his death at age 40 in 1916, London lived at his ranch in Glen Ellen, now the site of the Jack London State Historic Park.

The latest news is the publication last month by Kelly's Cove Press in Berkeley (www.kellyscovepress.com) of London's "A Raid on the Oyster Pirates."

The story was originally published in 1905 as part of a collection of London's stories titled "Tales from the Fish Patrol."

The book was based on London's experience as a 16-year-old member of an early Department of Fish and Game unit that enforced fishing regulations on the San Francisco Bay.

"A Raid on the Oyster Pirates" is a vivid account of a dispute over rightful ownership of the harvest from rich oyster beds, starting with a dockside encounter in Oakland.

The new book edition, priced at $15, runs 88 pages and features 19 drawings and watercolors, including two full-color foldouts, by William T. Wiley, a beloved Northern California artist since the 1960s.

Kelly's Cove Publisher Bart Schneider said he called Wiley with the idea of getting permission to use some of the artist's previous work in the book.

"Wiley has a whole history of painting ships and pirates," Schneider said.

At Wiley's request, Schneider sent the artist a copy of London's story. When Schneider called to follow up a couple of weeks later, he was astounded to discover that Wiley already had done more than a dozen new drawings for the book.

"Wiley said it was too much trouble to go through all those old pictures," Schneider recalled. "He said it was easier to just do new ones."


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