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Reviews 187 A Hunter’s Heart: Honest Essays on Blood Sport. Collected by David Petersen. (New York: Henry Holt, 1996. 331 pages, $35.00/$25.00.) In forty-one treatises on blood sport, you’d expect to find some opposition to it. There’slittlehere. The writers keepto onetrack, swinging wide occasionally to defend their flanks.Theyarenotall hunters, buttheyall acknowledge ahunter’splace innatur­ al mechanisms whose workings so few of us understand. The Resistance qualifies its remarks. Still, there are thoughtful pieces here, and a few stellar examples of wordsmithing . Ifthere’sanythingstrikingaboutthebook, itisaconsistencythat inducesboredom. This is not to imply coaching: Most ofthe work was excerpted. But the messages hew socloselytoathemetheybump intoeachother. Thenotionthathunting forfoodmakes sensebutthathuntingjusttokill does not appears doctrinal. Faultingpoachers for inex­ cusable behavior, animal rights activists for emotionalism, and sportsmen for apathy qualifies as achorus. Themusings ofoldhunters mellowingpopupinproportiontothe numberofoldhunters writing. Birddogsandtheobligatorybloodon snowplaytheirbit parts, as dothe words “dedicated,”“weapon,”“trophy,”“ethical,”and “management.” Butnot all ofthewritinghere leansonthoseimages and symbols—whichisto say some of it seems fresh. And some ofthe fresh is very good. Guy de laValdene, though he writes ofhis dogs, does so with suchinsight and socleverly that his “For aHandful of Feathers”jumps from the surrounding text. Steven Bodio’s “Passion, Gifts, Rages” moves off-trail with a deft sweep into falconry. “AFailure ofthe Spirit”by bear biolo­ gistTomBeckisperhapsthemostcontroversialpiece, asitsideswithprotectionistswho oppose baiting and hound hunting. Beck may have ordinary language skills, but he argues hispoint well: Concernfor individual animals, notjust populations, will increas­ inglyinfluencepublic reactiontohunting and, thus, theways agenciesregulatehunters. Method andmotive will matterasmuch asharvests andwintercounts. Some of the essays deliver sermons to hunters; others nudge them with hunting vignettes; others simply spool out philosophy. In many of these selections, personal exploits afieldbecome at once background for the writer’spresent position on hunting and a curious confirmation that the Other Side is right: Ego does nourish a hunter. There’s a requiem here, and much rambling. Ted Kerasote offers a step-by-step proce­ dure for improving the lot ofhunters andtheir quarry.You’ll find numbers as well (80 percentofAmericansbelievehunting shouldbelegal;hunters spend$500millionayear onlicenses), andfartoo many adjectives. In space, time, and professional focus, the writers published here showthe differ­ ences that should make acollection ofessays a tasty smorgasbord. Bureaucrats, schol­ ars, entrepreneurs, andinvestigativereporters havecontributed. Andlots ofprofessional journalists. Only four women appear—arguably not enough. But from such diversity comes a strangely mild stew, as ifphilosophical differences between people who have hunteddon’t amount to anything. Maybe it’s trendy to lament the way we hunters treated animals when we were young andplaying by the savage’s rules, and to lament now the way other people are treatingus. Buttrendyisn’t alwaysuseful, andsomeofthese writers aptlypoint out that if hunting is to continue those who hunt must replace the biological bromides they’ve 188 Western American Literature used tojustify their activities with anew definition of the chase. As Kerasote writes, we mayhavetomaintainitas“oneofourimportantandfundamentalweddingswithnature.” WAYNEVANZWOLL Utah State University American Nature Writing 1996. Edited by JohnA. Murray. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996. 300pages, $15.00.) American Nature Writing 1997. Edited by JohnA. Murray. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1997. 269pages, $15.00.) Back in 1994, Sierra Club Books inaugurated its annual American Nature Writing series, editedby JohnA. Murray and dedicatedto the presentation of what Barry Lopez hascalled the“literatureofhope.”Nowinitsfourthyear, this admirable series continues to expand and extendthe boundaries ofwhat we knowas “nature writing,” andto intro­ duce readersto newvoices inthefield. The carefully selected essays inAmerican Nature Writing 1996 focus primarily on place, not, says editor Murray, “in the abstract sense, but [as] home residence.” Such a theme is of great importance to those of us who live in the West, where the continuing abstraction of the wild threatens many of the places the writers in this volume discuss. The crucial distinctionbetweenabstract andconcrete visions ofplace ismade especially clearinessaysbyBarryLopez, whoexplains his senseofstewardshiptowardhis Oregon home; by Richard K. Nelson, who discusses the role place names play in the way we express the “connection between humanity and earth”; and by Deborah Tall, who con­ cludes that inaculture asmobile asours, “havingasenseofplacemay ... require acon­ tinual act ofimagination.”Fully athirdofthisvolume is dedicatedto previously unpub­ lished works, including essays byAdrienne Ross on the wild falcons who have made a home in urban America...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 187-188
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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