Books by Jack Becklund

NON-FICTION
Released: March 3, 1999

You know you're a bear when heaven is a rotten log full of grubs and ants. And you know you have achieved ursine nirvana when you have both a rotten log and a pal like newspaperman Becklund. At first it was just a change of venue for Becklund and his wife, Patti: Florida had paled, and northern Minnesota, where Becklund had old family ties, called to them. They went looking for a new life; they found bears. Not just furtive creatures that stuck to the forest fence, but a host of bears that made warm introductions. They came to dine on the Becklunds' birdseed when just lonely yearlings (Mother Bear gives Junior the boot after the first winter hibernation), and they stayed. What Becklund has gathered here is anecdotes and observations collected over six years of close association with Little Bit, Big Mama, Skinny, and their children and children's children. In his homespun, familiar style, Becklund tells of bears smelling like pine; marvels at their ability to move with eerie silence and simply disappear, ghostlike, into the woods; puzzles over why Little Bit can't get enough blueberries, although she turns her nose up at raspberries. There is also much doting over the bears: concern when a strange bear appears in their midst, anxiety when they—re late in returning after hibernation, a lot of window peeking when the girls start dating. Pleasant and curious as the story is, it would not have the impact it does without the photographs. There sit Becklund and Little Bit together on the porch bench, taking the sun and passing the time; there is Patti idly scratching a bear's head. The photos have an innocent, snapshot quality that conveys a sense of genuine contentment. Becklund is sentimental about the bears, but he avoids wringing any treacle from their days together. And lest he forget their essential wildness, a little bite—a modest puncture "a half-inch square and three-quarters-inch deep"'serves to remind him. (42 b&w photos) (Book-of-the-Month/Quality Paperback Book Club selection) Read full book review >
GOLDEN FLEECE by Jack Becklund
Released: Jan. 10, 1990

A half-successful debut that comes to life only when storms rage over Lake Superior. Harry Potter disappears aboard his sailboat when a storm blows up, leaving behind a distraught wife; a woman on the rampage—Big Charlie, whom Harry swindled out of the gold from an illegal mining venture; and a dead man, logger Carl Hoffman, Big Charlie's lover and the third member of the gold-mining operation. Sheriff Ray MacNulty and his deputy Walt focus on the murder, but get hints that Potter may have staged his own disappearance and may, in fact, be sailing down Mobile way with his boat's bilge laden with gold. When they finally catch up with Potter, he implicates Big Charlie, and their confrontation culminates in a shot, a dynamite blast, and a conflagration—but no charred bones to identify either Potter or Big Charlie. Another of Potter's set-ups? Was Big Charlie a duped partner or a loving sidekick? A postcard to MacNulty's office soon illuminates. Tricky plot turns, but flat prose. Weekend sailors, however, may savor the boating know-how. Read full book review >