THE HUNT OUT OF THE THICKET: Stories by John Morel Adler


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A first collection of nine stories, subtitled ""Tales of Hunting, Fishing and the Human Heart,"" that's just that: effective in its rendering of the hunt but rather stiff or sentimental when trying to deal with the affairs of the heart. The title story is representative of the formula Adler employs frequently here. A man who has lived on a farm for 21 years and who has hunted a buck for eight finally finds it. Vivid scenes of him stalking the buck are juxtaposed with memories of his first great love affair, mined by jealousy. When the man kills the buck, Filling him with satisfaction, he realizes that ""The dead animal is his, in a way she never could have been."" It's a shocking and effective finish to a story most at ease with nature. Likewise, in ""Two Moons,"" Gerard leaves his love, buys a boat, and goes after blue marlin. He's searching for ""the bigness. . .the same inexplicable magnitude of feeling"" that he once had with his woman. The fishing expedition is successful, and again the story ends with elation (though here, as in the title piece, the elation is qualified). Of the others, also set in the woods, swamps and seacoast of Georgia and South Carolina, ""Catching the Meaning"" is a father-and-son fishing story in which fishing leads to quiet intimacy; ""The Way It Was Before Things Got New"" concerns a black man forced to discipline a white child who spits water in his face; and in ""Night Casting,"" Moderator, an old black fisherman, realizes one of his dreams when he shares a quick-fix meal with whites who are also appalled by ""new people and their noisy boats."" The best here have the authoritative feel of a Field and Stream article, but several are too starry-eyed to hold much interest.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Algonquin