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Harrington, Walt. The everlasting stream; a true story of rabbits, guns, friendship, and family.

HARRINGTON, Walt. The everlasting stream; a true story of rabbits, guns, friendship, and family. Grove, 223p. c2002. 0-8021-4050-5. $13.00. SA

The fundamental principle of the universe, that life exists at the expense of other life, is the author's intellectual rationale for participating in the rural hunting traditions of his father-in-law and their friends. He argues that most people consume meat without ever having to shed the blood of the animal involved. On an emotional level there is the excitement of the kill, the connection to nature and the fraternal feeling he develops for the men as he gets to know them in their element In his words, "The book is a hybrid, comprising journalism, memoir and essay." Interspersed with the enthusiastic and sometimes graphic description of killing and cleaning rabbits (they were all consumed by humans) are Harrington's revelations of his maturation process from boyhood and gradual inclination to a less materialistic and social status oriented way of life. His discussions of career, marriage and children are encouraging for the non-hunter, who might consider hunting his only flaw. His hunting experiences, set in rural Kentucky, cover approximately 13 years; during the last four years his son joins the men in their yearly ritual.

Harrington's purpose in writing is to portray the deep psychological meaning and connection to life he finds in this endeavor. To his credit, several times in his glorification of the hunting life, there is questioning of his gut reaction to killing and cleaning prey and the "turning of the switch" as he refers to the shutdown of his emotional response to the act. His portrayal of the guys is incredibly believable, however much you might want to decry the sport of hunting. Their forays always conclude with shared alcohol and stories. He relates many of the stories, mixtures of truth and fiction that cement their camaraderie; some of them are crude. The book's subject areas are nature and hunting, and it could be a provocative tool in the social debate over the merits of hunting and gun owning and their place in modern culture. It touches on social issues of race, class and family values. Harrington, an award-winning writer for the Washington Post Magazine and author of Crossings: A White Man's Journey into Black America, currently teaches literary journalism at the University of Illinois. Ann Hart, Trustee, Juniata County Lib., Mifflintown, PA
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Author:Hart, Ann
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2004
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