DEEP ENOUGH FOR IVORYBILLS by James Kilgo

DEEP ENOUGH FOR IVORYBILLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a series of loosely interwoven nature essays, a teacher of English reflects on a life of hunting and fishing in the swamps of Georgia. There's something about a swamp that draw Kilgo in. He just has to wander there and investigate it, not so much for the deer or the trout or the wild pigs or the woodpeckers that he might find (though they are certainly part of it) as for the mystery of the swamp itself, the teeming, beautiful, dangerous, historical life of it, It's hard to know just what Kilgo is trying to express beyond his quasi-mystical feeling for swamps and the manly pleasures of deer-hunting, but he does manage to say a lot about the hunting, and gives a strong picture of his hunting club and the strange characters and rituals that make it up. There is a section on being lost in a swamp without a compass, and another on introducing his son to bunting, that are particularly moving. But Kilgo's voice, in a faintly disappointing way, remains a small one, eloquent for its time and place but unable or unwilling to break through to a more universal language in which his particular world can stand forth in vivid terms. He seems to distrust his own powers of verbal originality, and in the crucial moments when he should put his own insights into his own words--such as when the smell of a rotten beaver fills him with disgust at the idea of eating meat--he falls back on quoting Thoreau. There is a real feeling for the down-home people and natural places of the inland South in this book, but the writing too seldom rises above the level of regional sentimentality.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1988
ISBN: 0820317608
Publisher: Algonquin