A heavily mulled account of a country year, an ordinary place in rural Virginia where nature writer Camuto (Another Country, 1997, etc.) takes his joy, celebrates, studies.
Camuto is agog at the pure happiness he feels when abroad in the Blue Ridge countryside he calls home, in awe of its venerability. He endeavors to join the landscape, and hunting is one of his vehicles as he pokes about with his dog through “a funky patch of mulish mountain farmland wildly reasserting itself,” or goes bow hunting, which “requires slipping into the not-there, getting so close to deer that you are where they are, within the space of their awareness without them being aware of you.” Camuto is at his best when he is simply out there reveling, which is where we find him most of the time. But he can also be a bore, endeavoring to justify hunting by trotting out 10th-century Chinese sage Fan K'uan or 20th-century Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset (when will this poor man be given a rest by conscience-stricken hunters?). It would be so much easier, not to mention more honorable and believable, for the author to say that hunting makes him feel good and natural, that he does it with respect, that his take is modest. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine anyone who walks on the land with greater circumspection and appreciation than Camuto. His fondness for thinking aloud on the page sometimes results in such best-kept-to-himself reveries as “the musty wing revives the memory of an odor ancient as pine sap,” or “I watch day and night exchange gifts.” But then he will win you back by revealing the times he thought he was onto something deep and mystical, only to discover it was a robin or a dogwood without leaves. Which just serves to underscore the heart of the matter: it's all in the seeing.
Slightly self-conscious, but often inviting.