LEAVE SOME FOR SEED

By Tom Hennessey

Islandport Press, 2014

147 pages, $24.95

It would just be a guess, but it seems likely that Maine has more outdoor sportsmen writers per capita than any other state. And we have some good ones, like outdoor writer Tom Hennessey.

Fortunately, writers like Hennessey remind us of the value of Maine’s rich traditions of hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation and natural resource stewardship. His book, “Leave Some For Seed,” is a beautifully illustrated and warmly lyrical collection of 46 short essays on hunting, fishing and outdoor life. Hennessey is an internationally known sporting artist and outdoor writer. He is as skillful with pen and ink as he is with words, and each essay features a intricately detailed wildlife drawing.

Many of these essays are memories of hunting and fishing with family and friends, others are lucid commentaries on climate change, how hunting and fishing have changed over the years, and how anti-hunting, fishing, and trapping advocates seem determined to destroy Maine’s rich outdoor heritage.

Best, however, are his colorful and personal stories of Maine’s hunting and fishing culture, from his early days at deer camp and a fascinating discussion of the various qualities of different shotguns, to how to take good care of your hunting dog, and how to cook up a delicious rabbit fricassee.

Funniest is “High-Spirited Sports,” a lively fictional fishing gear argument between Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Hiram Walker and George Dickel. Hennessey also explains why “there’s more to fishing than catching fish,” why New Year’s “intentions” are better than resolutions and why fishermen often talk to themselves.

Other essays ponder questions like why waterproof leather boots always leak, how his dog can’t read a calendar but always knows when it’s Saturday and why hunting and fishing stories are always better when told around a campfire.

MARGEL’S MADNESS

By Darcy Scott

Maine Authors Publishing, 2015

255 pages, $14.95

Margel Matthews grew up in an unhappy family with a disinterested father, an alcoholic and abusive mother, and “dinner conversation was a blood sport.” Running from those painful memories, Margel is now a single mother with a 4-year-old daughter, waiting tables in the coastal town of Mosquito Harbor on Penobscot Bay.

“Margel’s Madness” is the latest novel by award-winning Maine writer Darcy Scott, author of the Island Mystery series, “Matinicus” and “Reese’s Leap.” This, however, is not a mystery. Rather, it is a clever psychological drama about an untrusting young woman who is mad at herself, her mother and nearly everyone who tries to get too close.

Margel keeps people at arm’s length, except for Alva Cousins, the wise, kindly patriarch of the Cousins clan of lobstermen and boatyard operators. Alva is Margel’s emotional anchor, the only person who understands her, and who knows what she must do to become a whole person again.

This is also a story about a town in conflict with its own future, a bitter struggle between locals and outsiders over what is best — tradition or change. As Margel tries to reconcile her feelings about her dysfunctional family, she rudely fends off two potential suitors, witnesses a snarky, arrogant real estate developer trick the town into agreeing with his huge condo project, and supports a troubled lobsterman grieving over his failed marriage and missing wife.

Tragedy and selfless sacrifice make everyone pause in their bickering and resentment, and Alva’s clear-headed advice makes sense of a young mother’s pain: “We both of us know death ain’t the worst thing that can happen to a person, there’s things like carryin’ around the pain of something all your life, living with things you can’t change and can’t live with the way they is.”

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.


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