Jack London (1876 to 1916-San Francisco, California, USA) is best know as the author of Call of the Wild and White Fang. London is firmly in the tradition of journalist and travel adventurer turned author. Many of his books and stories are set in the frozen wastes of upper North America. His style is simple straightforward prose.
"To Build a Fire" has been recommended to me several times as a short story I should read. It is according to my limited research the most famous of London's numerous short stories. (There is a good background article on London's interesting life and career here.)
"To Build a Fire" takes place in the Yukon, in far northern Canada. It is a very cold day, -75F and -60C, cold enough to kill a person in just a few minutes if they are not prepared. There are really only two characters in the story. The first is a man relatively new to the Yukon who went out on the trail alone, contrary to the advise of the more experienced. The other character is a husky dog (a wolf like looking working dog bred for very cold conditions).
The plot is pretty simple. I will not say too much on it so as not to spoil it. It is about the troubles the man has when his camp fire goes out and he cannot relight it. Here is a sample of his prose:
"The man flung a look back along the way he had come. The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow. It was all pure white, rolling in gentle, undulations where the ice jams of the freeze-up had formed."
"To Build a Fire" is worth reading and I am glad I have now done so. It is kind of a "macho man" type of story one often finds in American journalists turned literary.
You can read it online HERE.