(October 9, 2013)
Dr. Earle Labor launches biography, "Jack London: An American Life"
SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Earle Labor, Centenary's Emeritus Professor of American Literature and Director of the Jack London Research Center, is celebrating the release of his biography, "Jack London: An American Life," published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Dr. Earle Labor's book, "Jack London: An American Life"
Labor first signed a contract agreeing to write the biography in 1991. After years of setbacks, the book finally came to fruition this fall.
"I could write a book about the book," said Labor.
During the past half-century, Labor, the "premier world-wide Jack London authority" and personal friend of London's descendants, has published ten books and nearly one hundred articles on Jack London. In 1974, "Jack London," the first book-length critical study of London's works, received a "5 Star" rating in The West Coast Review of Books. The 1988 Stanford University Press three-volume edition of London's "Letters," co-edited with Robert C. Leitz and Milo Shepard, the great nephew of Jack London, earned front-page reviews in both The New York Times and The London Times Literary Supplement. The Book-of-the-Month Club featured the Authorized Macmillan Edition of London's "Short Stories," also co-edited with Leitz and Shepard, in 1990.
Accolades for Labor's newest edition to his London repertoire have already started rolling in, including praise from the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, and Publishers Weekly. A review by Booklist commended London:
Labor's unceasingly vivid, often outright astonishing biography vibrantly chronicles London's exceptionally daring and wildly contradictory life and recovers and reassesses his complete oeuvre, including many powerful, long-neglected works of compassionate, eyewitness nonfiction. Let the Jack London revival begin.
"I said to my wife, Gayle, 'I'm beginning to think it's a pretty good book after all.' The Booklist review in particular blew me out of the water. It's like a dream come true," said Labor.
Centenary greeted the release of the highly acclaimed biography with a reception honoring Labor with special guest Dr. Donald Webb, President Emeritus of Centenary College. Guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres made from recipes from London in the early twentieth century and Jack London wine from the London-Shepard family land and vineyard in Sonoma.
Labor has been part of the Centenary family for 59 years. His journey to Shreveport started back in 1955 while he was working as an assistant sales manager at Haggar clothing company. Labor received a call asking if he would be interested teaching at Centenary.
"I had been working for Haggar for a year at the time. It was a good job, but the intellectual challenge of men's pants wore thin after about six weeks. I had been an instructor at SMU and in the Navy, and teaching spoiled me," said Labor.
Labor was the first in the nation to teach an academic course dedicated to the works of London. Although retired from full-time teaching, Labor still maintains his office on the Centenary Campus.
"Jack London: An American Life" is available online and in bookstores. Shreveport's Barnes and Noble is hosting a book discussion and signing Saturday, October 19 at noon.