Hunting the Whole Way Home

Sydney. Lea

Published by UPNE, 1994
ISBN 10: 0874517370 / ISBN 13: 9780874517378
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Synopsis: Emerson described the hunter as "commanded in nature by the living power which he feels to be there present." The autobiographical essays in this elegiac collection convey that sense of living power, for Sydney Lea goes far beyond colorful accounts of tramping through Vermont woods following a gun dog's bell or a buck's trail. Hunting the Whole Way Home is a search for a personal philosophy or, as Robert Frost put it, a union of avocation and vocation. Lea explores the connections between his love for nature and his passion for writing. As Lea describes a world of grouse and Canada geese and trout and deer, he defends the hunt as primal and rejuvenative. He decries equally animal rights sentimentalists, the cruelties of slob hunters, and the "morally idiotic yap" of the NRA. His rationale for hunting is simple: "When I say I love the wild animals in a given ecosystem, I begin by acknowledging the plain fact that each must stand in relation to the others as predator or prey." That understanding, Lea says, emphasizes the otherness of wild animals and inspires true respect. Lea perceives a bond with those who share that respect: the generations of people who have hunted and loved nature as he does. The natural world gives him a clear view of the relation of child to parent and parent to child, of past to present, and the fragility of life. Pain awareness of that fragility colors his newest book and guides his ongoing struggle to make sense of a life for himself, and perhaps for others.

Review: The prose in this collection of hunting essays from the writer and poet Sydney Lea is as lyrical and colorful as a fall morning in the New England woods. Like other writers who have tried to convey the beauty and knowledge that can be gained through blood sport in an age of dogmatic NRA rhetoric and shrill animal-rights advocacy (Tom McGuane comes to mind), Lea wrestles with the central paradox of 20th-century hunting: stalking and killing wild animals can bring one closer to a mostly forgotten elemental earth. Lea conveys a respect for his quarry, the land they both inhabit, and man's place in a living chain in which the actions of any single link can be felt throughout. One need not be a hunter to enjoy these meditations on landscape and humankind's place within the natural community.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hunting the Whole Way Home
Publisher: UPNE
Publication Date: 1994
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: New

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