A potent exploration of the gray line between ``sport'' and subsistence hunting. Kerasote (a Sports Afield columnist) begins by describing his stay with the Inuit of Greenland, who must hunt seal, cod, narwhal, and polar bear—or die; practically their only Western artifact is the rifle, used only in particularly dangerous situations. In language so brilliant and vivid that it puts the rest of his narrative in the shade, the author tells of four-day hunts on the edge of the ice pack with sled and dogs; the stalking of seals; and the sharing of a piece of steaming raw liver with his hunter-sponsor. Next up is Kerasote's visit with one of the world's greatest trophy hunters, Bob Kubick, who welcomes Kerasote into a veritable forest of heads in his house in Alaska. Kubick is a singular purist—one who, for example, has for days stalked a ram though the snow at 19,000 feet, only to pass up a shot because the prey was not perfect in some way. Kerasote then travels to Russia with a party of paying duffers who—to his revulsion—corral big-horn sheep with helicopters while their guides slaughter the hapless animals with submachine guns. Finally, the author spends several days debating the director of Cleveland Amory's Fund for Animals, Wayne Pacelle. When Pacelle inveighs that hunters contribute only about 3.5 percent of the cost of running the National Wildlife acreage, Kerasote gently reminds him that big-game hunter Teddy Roosevelt had 150 million acres set aside as a wildlife refuge. A winning hand of up-to-date cards in the deadly serious hunting game.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-57609-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1993

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This is our life, these are our lighted seasons, and then we die. . . . In the meantime, in between time, we can see. . . we can work at making sense of (what) we see. . . to discover where we so incontrovertibly are. It's common sense; when you-move in, you try to learn the neighborhood." Dillard's "neighborhood" is hilly Virginia country where she lived alone, but essentially it is all those "shreds of creation" with which every human is surrounded, which she is trying to learn, to know — from finite variations to infinite possibilities of being and meaning. A tall order and Dillard doesn't quite fill it. She is too impatient to get about the soul's adventures to stay long with an egg-laying grasshopper, or other bits of flora and fauna, and her snatches from physics and biological/metaphysical studies are this side of frivolous. However, Ms. Dillard has a great deal going for her — in spite of some repetition of words and concepts, her prose is bright, fresh and occasionally emulates (not imitates) the Walden Master in a contemporary context: "Trees. . . extend impressively in both directions, . . . shearing rock and fanning air, doing their real business just out of reach." She has set herself no less a task than understanding emotionally, spiritually and intellectually the force of the creative extravagance of the universe in all its beauty and horhor ("There is a terrible innocence in the benumbed world of the lower animals, reducing life to a universal chomp.") Experience can be focused, and awareness sharpened, by a kind of meditative high. Thus this becomes somewhat exhausting reading, if taken in toto, but even if Dillard's reach exceeds her grasp, her sights are leagues higher than that of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea, regretfully (re her sex), the inevitable comparison.

Pub Date: March 13, 1974

ISBN: 0061233323

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper's Magazine Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1974

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In these insightfully droll essays, Gierach shows us how fishing offers plenty of time to think things over.


The latest collection of interrelated essays by the veteran fishing writer.

As in his previous books—from The View From Rat Lake through All Fishermen Are Liars—Gierach hones in on the ups and downs of fishing, and those looking for how-to tips will find plenty here on rods, flies, guides, streams, and pretty much everything else that informs the fishing life. It is the everything else that has earned Gierach the following of fellow writers and legions of readers who may not even fish but are drawn to his musings on community, culture, the natural world, and the seasons of life. In one representatively poetic passage, he writes, “it was a chilly fall afternoon with the leaves changing, the current whispering, and a pale moon in a daytime sky. The river seemed inscrutable, but alive with possibility.” Gierach writes about both patience and process, and he describes the long spells between catches as the fisherman’s equivalent of writer’s block. Even when catching fish is the point, it almost seems beside the point (anglers will understand that sentiment): At the end of one essay, he writes, “I was cold, bored, hungry, and fishless, but there was still nowhere else I’d have rather been—something anyone who fishes will understand.” Most readers will be profoundly moved by the meditation on mortality within the blandly titled “Up in Michigan,” a character study of a man dying of cancer. Though the author had known and been fishing with him for three decades, his reticence kept anyone from knowing him too well. Still, writes Gierach, “I came to think of [his] glancing pronouncements as Michigan haiku: brief, no more than obliquely revealing, and oddly beautiful.” Ultimately, the man was focused on settling accounts, getting in one last fishing trip, and then planning to “sit in the sun and think things over until it’s time for hospice.”

In these insightfully droll essays, Gierach shows us how fishing offers plenty of time to think things over.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6858-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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