The Last Hunter: An American Family Album
Hunting frames these childhood memories of a Midwestern family’s movement from a rural, isolated North Dakota farm “built around a fork and shovel” to postmodern American– wherein the author is caught off guard when his son and daughter show no interest in upholding the family tradition of the outdoor life. The Last Hunter is an examination of family, of life on the land, and those things we hold dear enough to want to carry along, one generation to the next.
“Weaver’s northwoods memoir is packed with gems.”—Minneapolis Tribune
And below, a short audio review by Ampers: Diverse Radio for Minnesota Communities
“Hunting is largely about the weather and time. There are confluences of temperature, light and wind when the odds are against the hunter. An overly warm or a bitterly cold day, too much sun or too little, dry leaves (a “loud woods”), the wind direction (steady or swirling)—any of several combinations can make the chance of shooting a deer like winning the lottery. Conceivably it could happen, but it’s not likely. At other times, like that day with my father and uncles, conditions turn toward the hunters. Low barometric pressure. Damp, gray chilly skies. Light snow drifting straight down, muffling sound and scouring the air. On such days human scent does not travel well; like wood smoke falling down the sides of a cabin on a still day it pools at ground level, stays close the body. Underfoot the oak leaves were limp and soundless. There was an incipience: something was going to happen.”
After several young adult novels, this memoir marks my return to the adult narrative. The book is far more about family than hunting, and gets a bit literary at times but that’s the story of my life: literature and the land. How to weave together those two contrasting sides was the challenge. The more I wrote about my Midwestern growing up the more I remembered, so my task was to find a “through-line”– a unifying narrative path. The issue of hunting was the great divide (along with religion) between my mother’s and my father’s side of the family; these two things became a useful framework. But even more important was the pull of great books and literature, and how they took me farther and farther from “home.” Another challenge was to be scrupulously honest about the facts of my family. My life. There is no “creative nonfiction” here. A memoir deserves no less than the facts.