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Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner Hardcover – June 12, 2012
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Her writing is evocative and inspiring, and it will encourage all manner of nature lovers to forge a deeper connection to their surroundings. . . . These are the words of a true student of nature, and they're sure to make even hunting skeptics wish they could join McCaulou on one of her dramatic treks through the woods."―San Francisco Chronicle
"A thoughtful examination of the issues that surround hunting in modern America, an entertaining account of McCaulou's evolution from someone afraid of firearms to an avid hunter, and an inspirational guide for anyone interested in following suit.―Mike Stahlberg, The Register Guard (OR)
"[An] excellent memoir. . . Clear, well-crafted prose . . . A book that rewards readers with a wealth of interesting information along the way."―The Washington Times
"Combines hunting stories with entreaties to be thoughtful about where dinner comes from and grateful for nature's bounty."―Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Will resonate with many readers, female or male, who are trying to reconnect with the natural world, whether via hunting or other outdoor pursuits. . . . It turns out that facing death in its many guises is at the core of McCaulou's memoir, and this stubborn fact of life is explored in some unexpected ways. Not so unexpectedly, the book culminates with a big game hunt, though the patience and detail with which it's recounted will be appreciated by neophyte hunters wondering what this moment of truth might be like."―Langdon Cook, Fat of the Land
"Compelling . . . her reporting skills help readers gain a deeper and broader understanding of the complex experience of hunting."―Melanie Balog, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
"Eloquent debut memoir about a young woman's transformation from a New York City urbanite into small-town Oregon hunter with a conscience. . . A powerful story in which the author shapes a narrative of personal growth into a symbol of modern humanity's alienation from the natural world."―Kirkus Reviews
"If you have always wanted to try your hand at hunting, buying this book is a must. Lily takes you on a journey through the eyes of a novice growing into an experienced hunter, beautifully illustrating the excitement of being able to hunt the food that you eat in a sustainable way."―April Bloomfield, chef of The Spotted Pig and author of A Girl and Her Pig
"Lily Raff McCaulou has a good heart and a curious soul, and her story of learning to hunt touches every emotion in the spectrum. Call of the Mild is powerful, well-told, and a great pleasure to read."―Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia and Great Plains
"Lily Raff McCaulou has done the hard intellectual work of actually thinking about why she's hunting and what it means. A fascinating work, and a way into a debate often marked by obstinant close-mindedness on every side."―Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
About the Author
Lily Raff McCaulou lives in Bend, Oregon, where she writes a twice weekly column for the Bend Bulletin. In 2010, she completed a prestigious Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan, where she researched this book.
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I docked one star for the author's rants on gun ownership and environmentalism. Despite her new status as a gun owner and user, she continues to depict them as animate items of destruction that kill and maim at every opportunity. She cites statistics showing this to be false but continues to convey terror in their presence. They're ok for her to hunt with, but no other legitimate uses exist. There's a little bit of latent elitism here.
She also makes several assertions that hunters need to work harder to join traditional environmentalists, but makes few concrete suggestions to bring those environmentalists around to hunting. In a way her whole book is that argument, but to be effective she needs to be clear that changes are needed on both sides. More reflection is necessary here.
The final star was deducted for writing style. The author is a newspaper writer and falls too easily into the trendy journalistic habit of writing everything in the present tense. "I drive the car to the airport." This makes it difficult at times to catch when the author switches from narrating past events to speaking in true present tense. The few instances in which she does employ past tense just serve to underline the rest.
Overall, a good read. A little too much hand wringing and emotional rhetoric, but that's to be expected when considering where the author started her philosophical journey. I hope she has continued to bring others into the fold.
1. A look at what hunting is and what it means to be a hunter in modern American society- including the resonant political, environmental, and cultural implications. From protesting, tree-hugging vegans to the NRA and shooting deer from you truck, McCaulou looks at every angle and view point with a researched and objective journalistic eye.
2. A self-inflicted gauntlet: McCaulou, a liberal East-coaster, moved to Oregon and decides to try hunting,which turns into a potentially life-long passion. How she gets there is like a literary version of "Survivor" except thoughtful, researched, committed and personal. McCaulou dedicates three years of her life to the challenge. She explores all of the needed preparation, many forms of hunting and the history of hunting. She hunts ducks, deer, elk, mushrooms and she fishes. She field dresses her kills. She deals with the emotional reactions she has to her new hobby humbly and honestly. It's easy to imagine being in her shoes whether you're an experienced hunter or a vegan - only she does it with an eloquence most of us lack. It's as much a lesson on where all our food comes from as it is an exploration of a new hunter's journey.
3. A memoir on life and death. No (good) hunting book should talk about the kill without addressing death. The extreme tragedies that befall the author midst her growing passion for hunting add new significance to the circle of life - a human issue, not just a hunting issue. She deals with the topic in an engaged, insightful manner.
Like reading Pollan with more humanity.
She talks about her ongoing decision even in light of family tragedies that caused her to re-examine her role in inflicting harm on living creatures. As a conservationist hunter, she refuses to be bound to the black and white of political organizations like the NRA, which is something not many hunters are willing to discuss. The book isn't all ethics, though. She weaves the social element of hunting; time outdoors with her husband, sharing wild game meals with friends and family, and meeting new people into her story so we can understand the whole picture of what hunting means to her.
I found the book engaging and was disappointed when it came to an end a day after I picked it up. She's a good writer. I hope the author continues to write about her journey now that she is a mother and a veteran hunter.
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