Sunday, February 8, 2009

If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat : Misadventures in Hunting, Fishing, and the Wilds of Suburbia by Bill Heavey

To be fair about this, the reason I renewed with Field and Stream for the five year plan was Bill Heavey. I really like to read his stuff and I knew it when I bought this book. This a really easy read and was just about all I expected it to be. You know, you can find a good bit of this stuff online if you want to try it before you buy it. Check out this link. Good stuff.

If you find that you need more humor or just a new perspective on things this may be your book. Bill comes across as an ordinary guy who knows how to hunt and fish and wants to be a good dad all the time and works hard and hates it and... You know the drill. The American condition documented without judgement with a wink and a shared commiseration of the facts of modern life: You would hunt more if you could, you know enough to know you could always do it better, and we are all human underneath the trappings of the world.

It's a good read and, like the last few, is broken up into short essays making it a good one for bedtimes or broken periods of reading. From 'Stalking Walt Disney' to 'The Promised Land' the book is filled with stories that share experience and read like a note from a friend. It's worth the time to read it if you like this sort of thing. So to it then:
  • Readability - 5 of 5 - Two things to know here. Column guys know how to get in and get out so this makes it move fast and convey on the mark. Also, the nice thing about writing about life as a fellow traveler is that you never have to use works like flossynossynillpillification, synco, or ibid. No heavy language around the heavy concepts of life. Not dumb, just readable at all levels.

  • Editing - 5 of 5 - Not much to say here. It's as well done as the monthly columns and those are always solid.

  • Subject Matter - 4 of 5 - Only 4 of 5 because sometimes he talks about fishing. Fishing is like golf in my mind and is simply an excuse to be outside by water and drink....

  • Did I like the story - 5 of 5 - By discussing the hobby I love and wrapping a life around it in prose, I find that I able to smile and shake my head and grin when I think of this later in the day. I don't get that a lot, not even with Ruark. This is special.

I have to say that having a collection of works for an author I like at hand to read it just about my favorite things for the cold and dark months after Christmas and before Easter. Bill Heavey is one of those guys I would love to take deer hunting through the day and spend the evening discussing the day with. The natural quality of the everyman comes through loud and clear and the talent behind it glows.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Lost Classics by Robert Ruark, edited by Jim Casada

So, big thanks to my Grandmother for buying this for me for Christmas. As I expected it to be, this one is a keeper. The Lost Classics is a collection of Robert Ruark's writings from various publications, a large portion of which we printed as monthly serials. Dating from the 50's and 60's, these writings provide a glimpse of a time and place this is surely gone forever. Ruark's style and knack for telling a story is reflected in each of these works.
Jim Casada has done an excellent job of assembling these. Having no frame of reference or firsthand knowledge of the columns Ruark published, I am at the mercy of those who can decide which were the best. That said, these were all excellent stories and worthy of finding their way into a book so they can be remembered a while longer. In short, this is a book to read if you like reading such things. The short story format makes it a good book for short bursts of reading and taken as whole the book is an easy, easy read.
  • Readability - 5 of 5 - While Horn of the Hunter provided a fairly in depth look at the man and the way he saw things, The Lost Classics is structured by virtue of the original context of the work (IE: Magazine articles) to get you in, get it done, and get you out again. Short and sweet... It's a really easy read.
  • Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - While Ruark's stories spend a lot of time talking about hunting and the outdoors, the stories here also talk about the life lessons learned as a boy in North Carolina. It's good stuff.
  • Editing - 5 of 5 - I like all of the stories in this book. I am certain it took a good deal of work to pick them over the others available. And the flow all seems to make sense.
  • Did I Like the Story - 5 of 5 - See above. Nuff said....

If you enjoy Robert Ruark's work or if you are looking for a way to see if you will, pick this up and read it. It's worth the time and will sit between chapters without any demands on you to know what is next... unless you like it and then, it's a good thing anyway. Enjoy.