Wednesday, July 6, 2011


      A recent flare up of my asthma has given me time to just sit in a comfy armchair  and read. If it wasn't for the coughing and the wheezing, it would if be perfect. A visit to my allergist yesterday and the prescription that he gave me should have me feeling much better in a day or two, but meanwhile I'm just reading.
     I mentioned the other day that I had purchased an unusual book while in New Hampshire last Thursday.  It was Moduc - The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer. See what I mean by an unusual selection? Anyway, I was at first drawn to the cover which features a photo of a little boy sitting next to a very large elephant. The bookseller mentioned that a local book club had selected it as their book of the month. Though my taste in books is fairly eclectic this would not be a book that I would normally pick up. Having said that, I have devoured this book over the last two days; it is a page turner. It recounts the trusting relationship which develops between two babies born on the same day, one the son of a animal trainer, the other an african elephant. The story traces their growth and exciting adventures over the course of seventy years.
     There is a problem with the book, however, for as I read on and on it occurred to me that this story could not possibly have happened as it is told.  In fact, it seems fairly improbable. A thorough search on the internet indicated that many folks share my doubts about the veracity of this work. So the question arises, should you read it?
     The English poet Samuel Coleridge suggested back in 1817  in his Biographia Literaria that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastical tale the reader could suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the story. So if you a willing to read this tale with a "willing suspension of disbelief," and you enjoy heartwarming, adventure stories, then by all means read this tale.

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