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Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs Hardcover – May 18, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"By turns wise, funny, and tragic, Afield explores the uniquely symbiotic bond between human and canine hunters. A gorgeous collection of bird-dog tales by some of America's most distinguished writers/sportsmen."
—Jim Fergus

"In this splendid, all-star collection of stories, bird dogs have at last got the book they deserve. Buy two. Even if your dog doesn't read."
—Charles Gaines

"Some of these stories have the power of a shotgun blast, and some will rip your heart out, but every one of them rings true. DeMott and Smith have put together the best collection of writing about bird dogs that I've ever seen. No sap, no sunsets—just great stores, beautifully told."
—Sid Evans, Garden & Gun

"In Afield, some of our best writers lay bare the fantastically high expectations and, ultimately, certain heartbreak that attend plunking down cold cash for a hunting dog—a fool's gamble anyway, because, as these delightfully literate stories well attests, in the end, out dogs own us."
—Dennis Anderson, Outdoors Columnist, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A perfect treasure for anyone who loves bird dogs and bird hunting."
—Jimbo Meador

"Afield's dual charms lie in its focus on the love of dogs many of us can identify with and the introduction for many of us to fine writers with whom we might never otherwise have become acquainted."
Upland Almanac

"Buy this book. You won't regret it."
Wisconsin Outdoor News

"The most original and literate collection of sports writing to come out in years . . . poignant, quirky, and always entertaining."
Sporting Clays Magazine

"Some of America's best writers . . . confess their exasperations, admiration and unalloyed love for the dogs they have trained, hunted with and, ultimately, mourned."
Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert DeMott is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio University and a leading John Steinbeck scholar. He is a passionate fly fisher and upland bird hunter. DeMott lives in Athens, Ohio.

Dave Smith has been twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and once a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other honors include two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is Elliot Coleman Professor of Poetry and Chairman of The Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1St Edition edition (May 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602397767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602397767
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert DeMott's most recent books are Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing (Skyhorse, 2012) and Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs (Skyhorse, 2010).

Astream is a collection of 31 original essays by American novelists, poets, and essayists--including Russell Chatham, Jim Harrison, Michael Keaton, Thomas McGuane, Ted Leeson, Margot Page, Kim Barnes, Craig Nova, Paul Schullery, Howard Frank Mosher, Pam Houston, Kate Fox, Jim Fergus, Charles Gaines, Chris Dombrowski and others--about the pleasures of fly fishing for fresh and saltwater gamefish. The book is dedicated to Nick Lyons in honor of his career achievements as an author and publisher of angling literature. Howell Raines, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Fly Fishing through the Mid-Life Crisis, provided the Foreword.

Afield, co-edited with Dave Smith, is a collection of 23 original essays by American novelists, poets, and essayists--including Tom Brokaw, Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, Syd Lea, Scott Ely, Craig Nova, Bruce Guernsey, Peter Fritzell, Clyde Edgerton, Ron Ellis, Guy de la Valdene, and others--on the joys and tribulations of upland bird hunting and living with the setters, pointers, spaniels, and retrievers required to do it. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Richard Ford wrote the Foreword.

DeMott is Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He is a teacher, writer, critic, and internationally respected expert on novelist John Steinbeck. In 1984, he published the first book of a scholarly trilogy on Steinbeck: Steinbeck's Reading: A Catalogue of Books Owned and Borrowed, a look into the reading habits and reconstructed print library of the famous author. Widely referenced, Steinbeck's Reading is considered an essential resource in Steinbeck studies. In 1989, DeMott published Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, 1938-1941. This book was an extensively annotated volume of the journal kept by Steinbeck during the five months he was writing The Grapes of Wrath. Working Days was a New York Times Notable Book for 1989, one of the year's ten best books listed by the San Diego Union, and among the twenty recommended books for 1989 by Writers Digest magazine. Finally, DeMott's third book in the trilogy, Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art, was published in 1996. The book collects nine fully revised and updated essays published by DeMott between 1980 and 1995. Of this trilogy, eminent Steinbeck scholar John Ditsky writes in John Steinbeck and the Critics: "DeMott's trilogy is unique, not simply formalistically. No one else has done anything like it in terms of original coverage." The book was co-winner of the 1998 Nancy Dasher Book Award from the College English Association of Ohio. Writing in the Steinbeck Review in 2006, critic Stephen George called Steinbeck's Typewriter "the most in-depth treatment of Steinbeck's aesthetics."

DeMott also has written authoritative introductions and notes for three Steinbeck novels in Penguin Book's Classic Series--The Grapes of Wrath (1992, rev. 2006); To a God Unknown (1996), and Sweet Thursday (2008). He also served as chief editor for all four volumes of the Library of America's series on Steinbeck--Novels and Stories, 1932-1937 (1994); The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings, 1936-1941 (1996); Novels, 1942-1952 (2001), and Travels with Charley and Later Novels, 1947-1962 (2007), co-edited with his former doctoral student Brian Railsback. He consulted on and appeared in the Learning Channel's Emmy-nominated documentary film on The Grapes of Wrath (2000), in "Novel Reflections on the American Dream," a PBS American Masters series television documentary on American writers (April, 2007), and in a joint U.S. State Department-Georgian (Russia) documentary film, Steinbeck and A Russian Journal 60 Years Later (2008). A major critical summation, "Prospects for the Study of John Steinbeck," written with Brian Railsback, appeared in Jackson R. Bryer and Richard Kopley, eds., Resources for American Literary Study (AMS Press, 2009). In 2009, DeMott provided a new preface for the online version of Steinbeck's Reading, which is available on the Martha H. Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies website. His edition of The Grapes of Wrath was chosen as the university-wide text for Cornell University's 2009-2010 New Student Reading Project. It is also the edition of choice for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Big Read Initiative. In 2006, DeMott received the Trustee's Award from the National Steinbeck Center (Salinas, California) for life-long contributions to Steinbeck studies.

In addition to teaching American literature at Ohio University, DeMott has also regularly taught an introductory poetry workshop in the Creative Writing program. He has published poetry in numerous literary magazines including Cimarron Review, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Lake Effect, North Dakota Quarterly, Small Pond, Southern Poetry Review, Ontario Review, Southern Humanities Review, Tar River Poetry, Texas Review, Quarterly West, Spoon River Poetry Review, Windsor Review, and elsewhere. His first book of poems, News of Loss, was published in 1995 by Bottom Dog Press as part of a chapbook collection entitled Men and Women/Women and Men. His second, The Weather in Athens: Poems, was also published by Bottom Dog Press in 2001 in Two Midwest Voices, which also included poet Jerry Roscoe's Mirror Lake. That book won the 2002 Book Award in Poetry from the Ohioana Library Association. DeMott's third collection, Brief and Glorious Transit, a chapbook of prose poems, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007.

DeMott's continuing scholarly and literary interests have led him to publish Dave Smith: A Literary Archive, an annotated bio-bibliography and personal memoir (Ohio University Libraries, 2000), and Conversations with Jim Harrison (University Press of Mississippi, 2002), a collection of interviews by the author and screenwriter, best known for the novella Legends of the Fall. DeMott also provided the introduction for Jim Harrison: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1964-2008 (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), by Gregg Orr and Beef Torrey.

Recently, DeMott's life-long sporting interests have led to "Of Fish and Men," an essay on Steinbeck and fly fishing in American Fly Fisher, 32 (Fall 2006), and to Afield and to Astream, the collection of essays on bird dogs and on fly fishing, mentioned above. He is currently at work on a book The Far Field, a collection of essays about sporting pursuits.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yukonben on October 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book after reading one of the stories in Garden and Gun magazine. I am not a hunter, but am a dog lover and wildlife enthusiast so this book combined the best of both worlds. These essays, written by some great writers, all have one thing in common. They chronicle the amazing relationship we can have with dogs when working together.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. H. Meyer on March 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lyrically written, Afield is a hymnal for those who love nature through birds, dogs and remote country sides. Whether you bird hunt with or without dogs, or perhaps, even as I fish...with or without dogs, you are able to smell and hear and feel the experiences so generously shared by this unique club of writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 31, 2012
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The book contains a great collection of bird dog stories that are sure to delight everyone. From bird dog antics to loveable partners for life, the authors portray their own lives and connection to their special dogs. Though each author writes of his dog in a different manner, you will surely find an author you can connect with and their love for the special bird dogs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From simple to elegant the writing is perfect and to the point of all the emotions. There was Joy, laughter, pain and tears in this book....but most of all you could feel the passion. A passion that you can feel yourself with your own dog that easily makes you relate to the stories and enjoy them down to your soul. Too think I have something in common with Tom Brokaw, I would of never guesses that.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was uplifting as a hunting dog owner to read about the foibles of other owners and their dogs. It made me feel like I have a lot of good company with a less than perfect dog.
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Format: Hardcover
Great stories well written by some of the best. I buy a lot of birddog hunting books and this is right at the top of the list for my money.
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