SIDETRACKS by Gary  Oberg


Email this review


A debut collection offers autobiographical stories about the thrill—and risks—of taking muddy back roads.

Born in 1942, Oberg grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Though he eventually left the farm to become an engineer and entrepreneur, his love of rural living never left him. In this lively volume featuring 40 stories, the author recounts his years going on hunting and fishing trips to places like Saskatchewan’s remote Sturgeon Landing and Colorado’s ruggedly beautiful Sawtooth Mountain. With a voice that sounds like a good-natured uncle telling campfire tales, Oberg’s adventures are—for the most part—a celebration of the great outdoors. (The volume features a few uncredited black-and-white photographs.) Some of the stories are very short, like one lovely, slice-of-life piece about the joy of listening to loon mating calls while in a tiny tent with his wife, Ginny. Other tales are more involved and introduce eccentric characters he’s met along the way, such as the “socially deficient” Capt. Al. Humor plays a big role here, too. Once, the author accidentally shot at a cow elk with his pants down because it appeared when he was trying to pee. A story that seems out of place in this upbeat collection is about a gruesome pig slaughtering—he didn’t know how to do it humanely, and the animal suffered. But for the most part, the prose is fun to read and sails along smoothly—and much like taking the back roads, it sometimes veers off the path. For example, a coming-of-age hunting story turns into a tale about the first time he ever tried a cigarette. Chock full of colorful descriptions, the bracing book—written with Holt—brings places to life. When Oberg was driving on a logging road in Canada, “the wheel ruts were deep enough to bury a coyote.” Not every trip produces a vibrant yarn for the raconteur, who recalls that he’s eaten more than his share of canned beans in the rain. But whether he’s night fishing on Minnesota’s small Manuella Lake or riding a motorcycle with Ginny through Alaska’s vastness, he truly appreciates the glory of nature. 

Vivid hunting and fishing tales for weekend warriors. 

Pub Date: Dec. 11th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-79039-220-9
Page count: 290pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2019


NonfictionWHITETAIL NATION by Peter Bodo
by Peter Bodo
by Bill Heavey