Sunday, June 14, 2015

Legend’s Legacy by Mike Gaddis

Some books need to be held in your hands and appreciated. You need to smell the paper and trace your finger across the illustrations. You need to feel its weight in your hands and hear the pages swish when you turn them. No digital download, no electronic version, just the real book itself. This superbly written and designed book is published by Sporting Classics, the only magazine next to Gray’s Sporting Journal that I read with regularity. Mike Gaddis has written for those magazines and a host of others, too. He is an outdoorsman, hunter, fisherman and all-around sportsman. And he’s a hell of a writer. The pantywaist crowd doesn’t read great books like this, which is their loss. They have enough trouble comprehending the bloated thrillers promoted by the big publishing firms. I’ve never met Mike Gaddis, but his books are on my shelf with those by Tom Davis, Theodore Roosevelt, Sigurd F. Olson, Peter Hathaway Capstick, Guy de la Valdene, Robert Ruark, Leon “Buckshot” Anderson, and Robert F. Jones. Literature doesn’t begin or end with Hollywood stories or whatever padded to excess hardback thriller is being touted this week by the New York crowd. Reading Great Literature is about seeking the top shelf or the forgotten tome in a dusty corner; or perhaps the bottom shelf where rests a hunter’s journal or a fisherman’s guide to handmade lures. Mike Gaddis writes books that are as alive as your memory of a favorite childhood summer, painted with bright colors, nostalgic but exciting. Legend’s Legacy reminded me why I love reading. Organized as 31 “chapters” each section is an essay or reminisces unto itself, all loosely connected. With illustrations by Dan Burr, each chapter offers a heartfelt memory, revisits old friends, seeks out a good fishing spot, or follows one of his treasured dogs on a hunt. Gaddis writes rich, textured prose, and tackles the many timeless themes of life. He is a philosopher as much as a writer and hunter. The prose fairly races across the page with raw emotion, sharp recollections, and self-confidence. A beautifully designed hardcover that belongs in every home or library, Legend’s Legacy by Mike Gaddis is my pick for this summer’s best reading experience.

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