Should the Tent Be Burning Like That?

Bill Heavey is one of the best magazine writers in America. No, he doesn’t work for theNew Yorker. He writes forField & Stream, the popular journal for hunters and fishermen.” – Danny Heitman,Wall Street Journal “Bill Heavey is my favorite writer. When I die, I want him to gut me, stuff me, and deliver my eulogy for one good last laugh.” – Ted Nugent

Maybe the best way to explain Bill Heavey’s writing is to note that both Ted Nugent and the Wall Street Journal – two entities rarely seen in the same sentence – like it. For more than twenty years, Heavey has staked a claim as one of America’s best sportsmen writers. In feature stories and his Field & Stream column “A Sportsman’s Life,” among other publications, he has taken readers across the country and beyond to experience his triumphs and failures as a suburban dad who happens to love hunting and fishing. This new collection gathers together a wide range of his best work. He nearly drowns attempting to fish the pond inside the cloverleaf off an Interstate Highway four miles from the White House. He rents and crashes a 44-foot houseboat on a river in Florida. On a manic weeklong deer archery hunt in Ohio, he finds it necessary to practice by shooting arrows into his motel room’s phonebook (The blunt penetrates all the way to page 358, “KITCHEN CABINET – REFACING & REFINISHING.”) Accompanying a shaggy steelhead fanatic – Mikey, who has no job or fixed address but owns four boats – on a thousand-mile odyssey up and down the California coast in search of fishable water, he realizes that Mikey is a purer soul than almost anyone he has ever met. Whatever the subject, Heavey’s tales are odes to the notion that enthusiasm is more important than skill, and a testament to the enduring power of the natural world. Whether he’s hunting mule deer in Montana, draining cash on an overpriced pistol, or ruminating on the joys and agonies of outdoor gear, Heavey always entertains and enlightens with honesty and wit.”

Full disclosure: I’ve never hunt, fished or read a magazine dealing with either. I actually picked this book because I do love the outdoors and camping and I was so glad I did.

Bill Heavey reminds me of a sports version of W. Bruce Cameron or Dave Barry. This book was similar in a lot of ways to a recent one of Cameron’s I read only this is ALL about fishing and hunting.

As someone with no background in the sports I still had no trouble loving the book. I’m sure those who actually know what he’s talking about when it comes to tackle, bows, guns and deer lures can appreciate it more but not having any familiarity with them didn’t stop me from thinking Heavey is a fantastic writer. I ended up waking my husband thanks to laughing so loud at his stories.

If you have an outdoor sports enthusiast this is a must buy for them as they will surely appreciate some of the antics Heavey gets himself into or emphasize with the pitfalls of spending days trying to hunt / fish only to end up with nothing but memories of a great journey in the attempt.

I adored this book and thanks to Heavey’s descriptive prose and talent for writing in a way the common person can understand people from all kinds of backgrounds and interests will find something to love and laugh about in this wonderful collection.

Thank you to Netgalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for allowing me to review this book.

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*synopsis and pic from

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