Will Weaver’s newest book, The Last Hunter: An American Family Album, is an examination of family, life on the land, and those things we hold dear enough to want to carry along, one generation to another. Here he takes the time to answer some questions about themes in the book.
This week, Will will be reading and signing at bookstores and libraries in the Twin Cities area. See listings below.
1. You usually write fiction. Why or how did you decide to write about you and your family?
Most of my fiction draws on real-life events, so writing closely about family was not a stretch. The Sweet Land story collection, Red Earth, White Earth, and even Barns of Minnesota are much about family.
2. As a young man, you were eager to leave small-town life, yet you returned later in life: why? When did you realize you wanted to return “home”?
The American writer Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can never go home again.” By that he meant, once you leave home and experience the larger world, things change forever. I now take comfort in the landscape of my youth (the fields, lakes, and forests) because the “City” (Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles) continually beckons. And as a writer, when the City calls, I have to go.
3. Can you talk a little about the tradition of hunting in your family?
Hunting was not a part of my mother’s family life, but it was central to my father’s family. As a young man, there was no question I would become a hunter, and it was an important part of my growing up. I still hunt, but far less, and more thoughtfully.
4. How does hunting connect you to the land?
This is the part that cannot be fully explained. It has something to do with slowing the mind, slowing one’s thoughts, slowing one’s life. That is the effect I experience of being in the woods for periods of time. As well, hunting for me is a process of joining nature. Of truly understanding and appreciating it.
5. Your son and daughter are not hunters. How did you and your father respond to this?
The Last Hunter is much about these sorts of family dramas—the continuance (or not) of important family traditions. In my family it was bittersweet, but with moments of great humor, too.
6. Do you notice a decline in the number of young people hunting? If so, why do you think that is?
There’s no doubt: fewer young people hunt, and there are several reasons. Hunting used to be seamlessly integrated into farm life, but only one percent of Americans now live on working farms. As well, young people today are far more “distracted”–have more demands on their attention than any generation before. Modern technologies of cell phones, the Internet, etc., are a constant presence. But it is also good to “unplug.” Hunting or just being in nature is a good antidote to the constant noise of modern culture.
7. With fewer people hunting, who do you think is the audience for your book?
A memoir necessarily has to be about the author, but it also has to connect with other peoples’ lives. As soon as the book came out I began to hear from readers with the “same story”—of how hunting used to be a part of their lives, but now was in transition. For an author, it’s wonderful to hear those stories. In the end, it’s a book for the thoughtful hunter or nature lover, and for the general reader who likes a good (and well-written) family story no matter what the subject matter.
Upcoming events with Will Weaver
Wednesday October 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Magers & Quinn in Uptown
Thursday October 14 at 7:00 p.m.
Hardwood Creek Library in Forest Lake as part of Club Book
Books available for sale from Magers & Quinn at the event
Friday October 15 at 6:00 p.m.
Writers on Writing Program with ArtReach St. Croix, 224 North Fourth Street, Stillwater
Books available for sale from Valley Bookseller at the event
Saturday October 16 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Reading Frenzy Bookshop in Zimmerman
Store Grand Opening Celebration!