Saturday, December 24, 2011
Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant that Ever Lived—Ralph Helfer
I have to start out by saying, I was not impressed with this book. That's maybe not the best way to start out, but...I was fairly disappointed. I'm a huge fan of elephants; I greatly admire them, to the point that if I was able to pick what I would be in the next life, I would definitely choose an elephant. So I was actually really looking forward to reading this book, and getting to learn about the amazing life of the "greatest elephant that ever lived."
First, the subtitle is incredibly misleading, possibly to the point of being a falsehood. It may be based on a true story, but that's entirely different than saying that it is THE true story. Second, it is ridiculously novelized. Most of the book, in fact, doesn't focus so much on the life of Modoc as it does on her owner/human soulmate, Bram, and his journey through life.
The book begins with Bram and Modoc being born in the same hour of the same day in the late 1800s. They are raised together, and Bram's father teaches Bram the ways to train an elephant with affection and love. Bram's father is the trainer for one of the big circuses in Germany. You follow Bram and Modoc through their journey, from the sale of the circus to an American man, to the shipwreck off the coast of India, to the destruction and pillaging of the village Bram and Modoc come to call home in India, to a circus in New York City.
While it was certainly an interesting story, I had hoped for a more formal writing style. An omniscient narrator who claims to understand the thoughts of Bram and Modoc is somewhat ridiculous (considering one is an elephant) and not at all the structure one would expect for a so-called "true story."
All in all, disappointing. I loved learning about the elephant; other than that, not my favourite read.