As I mentioned in some of my more recent posts, I have recently become addicted to reading. While Modoc was not the book that kick started this new passion, it is the one that I finished last so I want to write about it while it is fresh.
I picked up Modoc by Ralph Helfer in the bargain section of Barnes & Noble (seriously, check it out) knowing nothing absolutely nothing about the book or the author. I had no recommendations to pick it up and quite honestly the only reason why it caught my eye is because there is a picture of a massive elephant on the cover. It was a safe assumption that the book would therefore deal with Elephantidae in some sort of fashion. Due to my love for animals and the fact it was a very cheap pick-up, I decided to add Modoc to my growing library.
Modoc is an easy read. Helfer does not incorporate unnecessarily immense locutions nor is the book particularly long. I slacked a bit while reading and it took me about two weeks but I could have easily finished it in a weekend dedicated to its incredible story.
Modoc gets its name from the elephant whose story it tells, which Helfer claims to be the closest thing to the truth he could muster based on first hand accounts and research. It begins on the day that two babies are born. The first, Bram, to a German circus trainer and his wife, and Modoc, to an elephant named Emma. Bram and Modoc would go on to be best friends for the entirety of their lives. Their adventures would take them across the world from Germany to India to the United States and through many trials and triumphs. I won’t include any spoilers because I know there are people who get quite upset about these things, but the events that these two go through really are amazing.
What I loved about Modoc so much was how Helfer expressed Bram’s view on God, nature, and happiness. I identified very closely with this ‘natural view’ of God, as many of my most spiritual moments have come during times I spent considerable amount of time out in nature. The idea that animals are beings with emotions, from love to rage, that should be treated as equals was also a concept I keep. Between these two themes, I caught myself multiple times thinking, “Yes! Someone else gets it, too!”
Whether it was Helfer’s writing or my general soft spot for animal stories, I found myself very attached to Bram and Modoc as they fought against the things in life that would separate them. By the time I got to the last quarter of the book, I was unable to put it down. The ending, while sad, was a much happier ending than I had expected given how these animal stories tend to go (I’m looking at you, Old Yeller and Marley & Me and Where the Red Ferm Grows… GOD THERE ARE SO MANY). Even if the book were to have ended in the awful ways of the aforementioned animal stories, there is something uplifting about these stories that portray the intense emotional bond that can exist between animal and human.
I don’t feel like I have read enough books to put them on a scale, but I would recommend Modoc as a relatively easy, fast paced read that won’t demand a huge time commitment from the reader but still gives them an emotionally charged, captivating story.
If you get a chance to read Modoc, please let me know what your thoughts are!
All my love.