At the Bristol Savers, I found a 1951 edition of “Kim,” by Rudyard Kipling. Inside was an inscription from a headmaster to a student, upon the latter’s completion of “Form III,” whatever that is.
It was really a cool book, in great shape for being 65 years old. Weird to think it was a 50-year-old classic even when that book was made. At trivia last Wednesdaya, I learned Kipling was the first to call prostitution “the world’s most ancient profession,” way back in 1888. Twelve years later, he wrote Kim.
There’s no lesson here or any big takeaway. I just think Kipling is a fascinating dude, and “The Jungle Book” is a great book.
Speaking of Mowgli & Co., here’s a fantastic excerpt from Brian Phillips, one of my all-time favorite writers, on Kobe Bryant from last January.
A few months ago, I read The Jungle Book to my 8-year-old niece. She listened with huge eyes to Kipling’s story of talking wolves and vengeful tigers and the Law of the Jungle; as soon as we were finished, she demanded to hear it again. One of the places where her eyes got biggest was the part about Akela, the Lone Wolf, who rules the pack from atop the Council Rock. Do you remember this? It’s silly, like Kobe Bryant, and also kind of moving, like Kobe Bryant. Akela is strong and cunning. But he knows that one day he must lose his strength, and that when that happens, the young wolves will challenge him and pull him down and kill him — which, of course, nearly happens in the course of the story. There’s a lot of talk in basketball about players who are alpha dogs; an October 2013 Sports Illustrated cover depicted Kobe as the last of the breed. But ask my niece what happens when alpha dogs reach the end.
Boy. That’s some good writing.