Should the Tent Be Burning Like That?

Should the Tent Be Burning Like That?

A Professional Amateur's Guide to the Outdoors

Book - 2017
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"From a celebrated writer on the outdoors, hilarious stories about the joys and pitfalls of hunting, fishing, family, and adventure"--Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017
Edition: First edition, First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
ISBN: 9780802127105
9780802189271
Branch Call Number: 796.5 HEA
Characteristics: xiii, 263 pages ; 24 cm

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deebitner
Feb 28, 2018

I haven’t been into humorous essays much as an adult, although I loved Erma Bombeck and similar writers as a kid. The closest I’ve come lately has been the series of books by Black authors I’m reading, and I’m checking those out more to find out how to be a better ally to them and their kids than I have been in the past. But Bill Heavey’s book is like the stereotypical male version of Bombeck and the sadly-forgotten Teresa Bloomingdale: where they were talking about the insanity of being a woman in the 60s and 70s and raising kids, he’s talking about fishing and hunting. He’s just as inept as they are, but he’s an outdoorsman, dammit!

Full disclaimer: I am a carnivore but say a thanks for the spirits of the animals and plants that feed me. I know I could never take the life of another being - I fished once when I was ten before it dawned on me that the fish I caught and later ate was something I killed. Now, knowing, I’d be happy fishing catch-and-release to get outside, and target shooting with a bow and arrow is great fun, but that’s it. I am aware of and acknowledge, that we have taken out natural predators and created habitat for deer and other wildlife that makes them overpopulate and ends up with starvation and encounters with traffic. As a result, I’m willing to consider culling as a solution, but I admit it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

All this means I was fully prepared to dislike Heavey’s book. I was pleased to discover that, while I am not its target audience, Heavey himself is not always all that blasé about hunting. He enjoys getting out in the fresh air and stalking or waiting for deer or turkeys or what have you to come by, of course. But he admits more than once in different essays that he thanks the kill, that he feels ambivalent about it, and that he thinks far more outdoorsfolk feel the same than are willing to admit it. That was frankly refreshing to read!

Heavey also makes a point of lauding the skills of the best in the business. Many of the essays are about him getting to learn from them. They universally seem to be rolling their eyes, but he does a great job of showing what kind of person is interested in getting out there and trying to keep old ways alive in spite of the incredible tech currently available to a hunter or fisher.

He also discusses his relationship with his only child, a daughter. He is trying to raise her to enjoy the same things he does, and hope flares for him when - you guessed it! - <i>The Hunger Games</i> comes out. (He gives his own review of the books as well.) Over the course of mocking himself, though, he acknowledges that she is very much her own person. I am happy to say that he never once looks down on her.

I am giving this one a surprising four of five, unless you are a vegetarian for ethical reasons, in which case you will hate it and should absolutely skip it.

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