Really? A guy living in Brooklyn writes a book about
hunting? What you might think isn’t even close. He’s not some odd kind of
metrosexual without the aversion to wild game. Nor is he a casual hunter who
occasionally escapes Gotham for an upstate camp where deer hunting is
incidental to which beer goes best with what’s in the camp’s stew pot.
Enter Steven Rinella. Born in Michigan and groomed for
hunting by a culture where kids can still grow up dreaming of being the next
Jeremiah Johnson, Rinella actually made his boyhood hunting dreams happen. A
blend of Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger and Tom Sawyer, he hesitates not at all to
strike out for the territory ahead with traps, fishing rods, bows and guns. His
adventures have taken him everywhere and his book, Meat Eater, takes us along. So, think of it as a travelogue.
The outdoors and the wildlife it hosts have held an
attraction for Rinella for longer than he can remember. And he unapologetically
tries to fill his tags. He declares himself, proudly, a meat eater. So, think
of Meat Eater as a book about
But it’s not a book about killing. That’s the irony of Meat Eater. As Rinella pursues the
experiences hunting offers across the continent, he weaves into his stories a
philosophy of life that’s as gutsy and as honest and as deep as you’ll ever
read. That’s what Meat Eater is –
it’s really a book about a hunter’s values camouflaged as a book about a
Certainly hunting is man’s oldest pursuit, and while much of
man’s hunting history is lost, a big piece of it is recent enough for North
Americans to remember how it shaped the continent. Rinella treats the fact that
hunting is in its waning years as a tragedy – the very thing that gave man his
ability to survive in a hostile world is on its way out at a time when the
world is increasingly hostile.
In the pages of Meat
Eater, you’ll clear up a few things in your own mind. You’ll learn that the
primary motivation of hunters is not to kill. You’ll learn that hunters aren’t
dimwits out to prove their manliness, or sadists seeking their jollies by
causing animals to suffer. Rinella destroys the false stereotypes constantly
reinforced by a culture that has severed itself from its own roots.
The truth is that hunters hunt for reasons little understood
in an urban, technological age. And they take responsibility for it in a way
that the average person today doesn’t even think about.
If anyone cares a lick about understanding what makes
hunters tick, this is exactly the book to read. If modern hunters need
confirmation for what they do and why, here it is. And if non-hunters (or
anti-hunters) will risk reading a book about hunting that will threaten their
preconceptions, this is the one.
Time will tell, but Meat
Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter has what it will take
to be a high water mark among twenty-first century essays on hunting. It’s well
written, thoughtful, respectful, and it’s right.