Saturday, 18 January 2014

Deer Hunting In Paris: Book Review

Gotta flash this one up to you. A while back another former vegetarian Paula Lee got in touch saying 'we have some mutual friends and you might like my book'. I do, a lot. She is very very funny.

Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat

Paula grew up in Maine, which has it's own Paris [who knew?] and lives in Paris [actual Paris], She lives the life of a european academic, she's got all the enthusiasm's of the ex-pat, knows where to eat, and all the cultural sights. The book really captures what its like to live in a foreign city, seeing all the things that are invisible in our home town's. One afternoon, sitting in the sunshine she's surfing a dating site 'for a friend' and sees a guy who piqued her curiosity, and happened to be from a few towns away from where she grew up.

Having moved an ocean away to take up the life of a european intellectual, the book is a record of her adventure rediscovering rural american life with her new boyfriend, who isn't above teasing his 'city-fied blue state girlfriend' . Some very funny scenes follow.

Paula leaps off the page, with her stories of a childhood being a minister's daughter as her korean family make their version of the american dream in rural Maine. Being a bit 'bookish' [to say the least] Paula also peppers the pages with snippets from some very obscure old books on hunting and eating. Through the accident of love she revisits her childhood through the eyes of a more worldly traveler. And its fucking hilarious.

Here are a few snippets from one of our emails conversations.

SBW: What's the best piece of 'woodsman's lore you've picked up?

PL: ...The part I liked best about that outing was Patrick smelling the snow to determine how old the rabbit tracks were. I am still not sure that technique works. He and his brother, my boyfriend John, love to try and convince me that certain "woodsman lore" is for real when it's actually just them making sh*t up.

SBW: In your book I get a sense of a very busy childhood - lessons, chores, work, the church etc Did you always have a wanderlust for travel? And why Paris - probably the second most 'up itself' city europe has to offer?

PL: Every girl wants to go Paris. It's just a question of "which" Paris: foodie Paris, fashion Paris, arty Paris, romantic Paris? I ended up with ratty Paris, which was just fine with me but I don't think it's good for tourism.

SBW: There's a great moment where you seem to see your own anthropomorphism; Homer the dog is either 'got' by coyotes or kidnapped - your new family don't seem that concerned by the fate of a working dog and not very good one at that - but you're still ' but its Homer!' imbuing him with personality, how did that change?

PL: Until I'd met Patrick's pack, I'd never experienced hunting dogs that actually hunt. They're like furry space aliens with wagging tails. Who knew that beagles thrill with doggy joy when there are real rabbits to chase instead of tennis balls?

SBW: In my experience the french are a lot more 'whole animal' than the English, with some americans in between and lots of your fellow countryman even more squeamish than the english, how long did it take you to adapt?

PL: Never understood the squeamish thing. I'll put it this way: for Christmas, John bought me muck boots to wear when shoveling manure, a new skinning knife, and a meat grinder to make venison sausage. I was very happy.

SBW: Why do you hide 'Guns and Ammo' on a church day?
PL: Can't hide the actual guns.

SBW: Looking from the outside the 'culture wars' between americans who can read and americans who watch Fox seem laughable how would you describe them to an overseas observer?

PL: Well, I argue with the Fox News people and John reminds me that they can't hear me, being on television and all. So I guess that it's in a nutshell: a liberal trying to debate with talking heads who don't care what I say, and a conservative reminding a liberal that you can't change reality by yelling more loudly.

SBW: The "sighting my rifle' story is very good, you capture the moment very well, have you thought about buying him a laser bore-sight?

PL: What he really wants is a tank. You can get them on the internet.

SBW: My GF calls internet dating 'shopping for men' I loved the idea of you browsing on behalf of a friend and finding john - have you ever found anyone for anyone? I ask as a GBF found me for my GF.

PL: See: "Tank." You can find just about anything on Amazon. Including frozen whole rabbits.

SBW: Does john ever come to paris to visit you, and does he hunt in france?

PL: John came to France. And to England. He didn't come to Korea. Poor guy finally got so exasperated by my month-long disappearances that we broke up. Then I came back; we had a huge row, and after a Bonobo-monkey-like negotiation session we resumed our relationship. It would be a thrill to hunt in France but have no idea how to arrange that. It's difficult enough to arrange in Massachusetts (a blue state made up of "readers," very anti-hunting).

SBW: When we were emailing about these questions you were skinning a 6 point buck with one hand and texting me with the other, and in the book you express an unfulfilled interest in tanning, have you learned to brain tan?

PL: "Have you learned to brain tan?" Trying saying that in an elevator! So far, it's coyote bait and a bit of suet for the chickadees.

SBW: I used to see a blogger from Massachusetts and she characterised / mocked the bostonians for including the word[s] 'wicked-awesome' in every sentence, was she being unfair?

PL: It is a wicked awesome place except for the Massholes who live here.

You can find her book on Amazon HERE

This post was brought to you, by me and the lovely people at Grammarly, I use Grammarly's free plagiarism checker because encouraging people to do their own writing instead of plagiarizing will make them better writers, I think of it as an act of kindness. It's also 'wicked-awesome' for confirming citations, which can come in very handy.
More soon


Steve Bodio said...

Hi Sten, this sounds brilliant!

You might put her in touch with us-- I connect a lot of odd nodes and intersections-- lit world and hunting, east and west and to some extent England; I live in the SW back country but speak passable French, more or less cook that way--YOU know.

One thing I think I could do: I have a friend, an academic, a geneticist with a Medical degree, a highly literate guy-- who goes to France to eat and shoot and fish (and eat!) every year, and who knows the French outdoor world and the literary world. Say the word-- I am giving him this link when I get off!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


thanks man, that's just what this blogging malarky is all about, consider it done


Chas S. Clifton said...

I may need to read this book!

Anonymous said...

I definitely don't................. need to read this book!

In contrast I may need to read this book

Double-Barreled Rifles: Fascination in Wood and Steel by Norbert Klups.



The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I take it back, perhaps blogging isn't for you

Anonymous said...


I'm the first to admit I'm not completely au fait as to how this blogging malarkey is conducted.
I am the same when it comes to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc. I don't have a clue as to what twerking is, does or doesn't do.

But I assumed blogging is much like real life. You write a blog entry in which you make a statement or express view. You then toss it out into the wide blue yonder via the www for others to read, ponder and comment upon.
Some free thinking individuals like your good self allow their readers to chip in now and again with their own views and such like and so forth.Much praise should be heaped upon you for being so free thinking and accommodating.
Others like your fellow blogger BB run a closed door policy, for reasons I've yet to fully comprehend. I'm slued on the side that says they are just way more up tight and anally retentive than the bloggers who run a more inclusive and happier ship such as yourself. I'm also fixed on the idea that they can't deal with the occasional negative input with the humour and good graces you have shown the like of Moi on various occasions. Which gives rise to the thought of why do they bother to blog in the first place. Unless it's some inner demon that drives them to find away to have their say without having to contend with the responses coming back.All of which makes one look a bit shallow, wouldn't you agree?

Sorry we seem to have digressed from the plot by some good distance.



p.s.I do throughly recommend Double-Barreled Rifles: Fascination in Wood and Steel by Norbert Klups.

LSP said...

Boston is totally wicked awesome. So I live in Texas with 1/2 an eye on Bunker Hill...

"God, Guns and..." sounds eerily familiar, will check out the book.

You must visit Lonestarism, it'd be a blast.


PS. Ongoing Lee Project restarting -- rifle #2 = "trench carbine", I think.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


It's my bar, there are a group of regulars sitting at a table having a chat, i'm chatting with them.It's a pub, we are chatting in a public space, how a stranger joins the conversation tends to have an effect to how their joining the conversation is taken.
As the barman If i don't encourage people to play nice even the regulars will start to drink down the road.

You might have noticed that i'm in correspondence with or spend time with the other bloggers and commenters, so their opinions will always be taken more seriously than an anonymous commenter or semi anonymous commenter like yourself. I feel sure we've been through this before?

in sport

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


As the SBW blogs Religious correspondent I think its only right that you review Paula's book forthwith!

how did the coyote hunt go?

LSP said...

OK, Bushwacker, I'm pleased at my promotion to Religious Correspondent (a dying breed, alas)and will step up to the plate with a review.

Perhaps you could review Jeff Cooper's "Art of the Rifle", or "Principles of Personal Defense"?

The hunt was fun in an armed excursion under the moon and stars sort of way -- heard a lot coyotes but no visual. Next time.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...


We'll do a swap, if fact that swap we didn't do for the Corbett books!

In the meantime, we've gotta do something about your luck, while armed rambling is always entertaining, you need food dude.


Anonymous said...


I'm not much of a one for pubs and bars. Unless they are the quite country ones. My take on it is is you're going to have a chat in a public space don't be surprised if one of the surround members of public lobs a quick comment into the ring. If you want an exclusiveness and to cut off the non group participation, take the chat into the back room of the pub/bar, or do it at home. Doing it in public using stage whispers is not to be recommended.
How the outsiders contribution is received by those in the circle, is of minimal interest, possibly irrelevant, at the time the comment is made. Subject to no one is barged out of the way or shouted down in order for the comment to be tossed in the ring of course..

No, I hadn't noticed your off blog activities. I admit I give absolutely no thought to how you spend your time between blogs. I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that like the rest of society you had a variety of personal interactions with other human being, animals and inanimate objects. Some of which you made note of in the SBW blog. I'm well aware that it would be naive of me to expect you to give the same weight of consideration to comments made by the anonymous and the semi anonymous to that which you apply to those made by folks you have some greater involvemnet with. However I do contest that those anonymous comments don't have any the less validity. Subject to the usual parameters of course.



LSP said...

true! solution? more hunting.

Anonymous said...

"have you learned to brain tan?"

What's to learn? Its as easy as falling off a log.It goes like this
1.Kill animal
2.Gut and skin animal
3.Remove animals head from skin
4.Split head and scoop out brains
5 Mix mashed up brains with clean water.
6.Soak de-fleshed skin in brain/water mixture.
7.Remove skin from brain/water mixture and wring out.
8.Work skin over a stout wooden rail or post until skin is dry.

Alternatively you can simply pin skin to the side of the barn or out house flesh side out, and paint with Paraffin daily for 2-3 weeks. Then work skin over rail or post to make supple.

Done both. Equally good results from either method.

Alan Campbell said...

Hello, I have been a lurker of you site for years.

Just love your view point. Living in the anti-fucking-everything state of California long before activists were even breathing in our neighborhood, I totally appreciate the blog.

I just ordered the book and thank you for the connection.

Love to Hunt, Fish, and work to "conserve" not 'preserve" our resources so my kids and grandkids can get the opportunity to taste them.

Carry on and keep up the excellent blog. Love it!!!


alan said...

Hello, Alan here. Just finished the book last night. Great read. I love the way she looks at the people around her. Her enthusiasm for meat and the processes around it are fantastic.
The wedding reception part is a scene out of my own life.
Thanks for the recommendation.

Keep up the fun..Alan

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Glad you liked it

Unknown said...

Great post-review.
I just start reading your blog.

Greg from

Unknown said...

Interesting blog. This is one of my favorite blog about hunting and I also want you to update more post like this. Thanks for sharing this article.

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Kevin Steffey said...

Good review!! Good work on this post! I really like the way you delivered your qualitative facts and how you made this fascinating and effortless to realize. Thank you!!