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ON THE EDGE OF THE WILD by Stephen Bodio


Passions and Pleasures of a Naturalist

by Stephen Bodio

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55821-648-0
Publisher: Lyons Press

 A mixed but savory bag of outdoor essays, cultural criticism, and culinary advice showcases one sportsman's enlightened view of the natural world. Explaining why he'll never be a native in his adopted New Mexico home, or contrasting his contempt for catch-and-release fly- fishing with his love for falconry, Bodio's favorite stance is that of the outsider. He presents himself as a self-aware ``thinking hunter,'' a contrarian outdoorsman who not only hunts but reads, reflects, and cooks. His intended audience is both enlightened nature-loving hunters like himself and the arrogant city folks who nurture ``coastal prejudices'' and delusions about a monochromatic, romanticized West. He paints a vivid corrective portrait of the Real West, a place far from touristy Taos and Tahoe, while tackling universally relevant issues of land use and sporting ethics. ``Unexpected Eagle'' stands on its head the conventional theory blaming European values for American deforestation, noting Europe's valuable example in reforestation and reestablishment of endangered wildlife like wolves and Bodio's beloved raptors. ``The Catfish Heretic'' confesses affection for the plebeian channel cat and decries fly-fishing as the overrefined ``blood sport of urbanites and vegetarians.'' So pervasive is his contempt for yuppies that their indictment (for ruining everything from fishing to risotto) grows a bit tiresome and shrill by book's end--even if it is rooted, perhaps deservedly, in the West's increasing despoilment by fleeing urbanites. Bodio's tone ranges from the passionately polemical in ``Struck With Consequence,'' chronicling his flirtation with the sagebrush rebellion, to a kind of sated, after- dinner resignation in ``Meat,'' in which he announces he'll ``no longer write anything with the purpose of convincing anyone to do anything.'' 'Tis a pity, if true, for what's left, in between, is a more moderate and profound personal note of satisfaction at having found the right way to live and an infections conviction that others can do the same.