.Dad handed me a signed copy of John Faris' new book, Ten Was The Deal, a few months ago when I was home in Spartanburg. I went through it, as George Patton once said of the Third Army through German lines, "like crap through a goose."
Mr. Faris is a contemporary of Dad's, and he grew up hunting and fishing with his dad and grandad around Laurens, SC. The book is full of stories that make me wish I'd been born 50 years earlier, and that I had spent twice as much time outdoors in my youth as I really did. Having duck hunted and turkey hunted in the outskirts of Spartanburg County growing up, on the Tyger River and the Pacolet River "flyways," and with years of fishing in the creeks behind Litchfield and Pawleys Island and Edisto, and frequent trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the landscapes of Faris' stories are hauntingly familiar.
So too is his deeper recitation of values, of family, and of love for and respect of the mystery of the outdoors, something that we are less and less a part of with the passage of time. It used to be that "life" itself happened outside, for the most part. Now, it seems we shuttle from one air-conditioned climate-controlled compartment to another through the course of the day, and the weeks, and the years. But for the presence of different scenes on a Hallmark(r) card, the passing of seasons bears less and less import in our lives, as does the natural courses of birth and death from which we now are so detached.
The short stories in this book also have that special quality of a true writer and well-versed storyteller, because they each draw you deeply and irresistibly into the drama and momentum of each good tale. For example, here's an excerpt from the story "You Got My Attention":
“The cold salt water was up to our calves. It was rising slowly, but rising nonetheless. Both Dad and I had on chest waders and neither of us would have given the height of the rising water a second thought, except for the fact that, where we were standing, the water level for half a mile in every direction was neck deep. To be exact, the two of us were shoulder to shoulder in a curtain blind behind the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in the middle of Croatan Sound. Hunting from such a strange contraption was quite new to both of us. The delicious mixture of danger, the adventure of the unknown, and the anticipation of my first goose hunt had me shivering.”
This excerpt of “You Got My Attention” is taken from Faris' website, http://outdoorstories.com/, and the book Ten Was The Deal can be found through Amazon and other dealers listed there.
Faris' book makes me want to redouble my efforts to get outside, to live part of my life outside, and to make sure my kids have the opportunity to do the same, whether they enjoy hunting or boating or rock climbing or just swinging in a camp hammock up on the Blue Ridge.