(PDF) Download (EBOOK) West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge — An Emotional, Rousing Novel Inspired by The Incredible True Story
Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.
It’s 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world’s first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes. What’s not to like about a historical tale partly grounded in truth about two giraffes’ journey across the country to their new zoo home? But the way the author chose to frame the story was both artificial and distancing.
- Publisher : Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2021)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 372 pages
A worker at the VA finds a footlocker full of writing by a recently deceased vet, one of the men who traveled with these animals. That could have been fine, but the way the author chose to have this man write came across as exceedingly overwritten for its supposed author, as if he is trying to lend too much gravitas to the situation. Here’s an example: “And there is still this story that’s yours as good as mine. If it goes extinct, too, with my old bag of bones, that’d be a crying shame — *my* shame. Because if ever I could claim to have seen the face of God, it was in the colossal faces of those giraffes.” Now, thankfully, not all the old man’s supposed writing sounds that bad, but the rest of the narrative wasn’t much better. It often came across as more telling rather than showing, like an old man recounting his life with the benefit of hindsight. When we live our lives, we don’t have that benefit. So when a story is told in that way, it builds a wall between reader and story. At some point, that wall of telling needs to fall away so we can simply experience the events and draw our own conclusions without the narrator telling us. I did find this artifice distancing and never really could get into the story.
Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.