These moving essays so seamlessly connect her inner and outer selves that Legler (a creative writing teacher whose work has been anthologized elsewhere) even manages to combine such seemingly at-odds subjects as her love of and respect for animals and her love of hunting, her affection for her ex-husband and her strong sexual attraction to women, without ever sounding hypocritical or confused. Nature plays a part here, but really these are essays about emotional states, and Legler bares her heart as easily as she slits open the belly of a deer. On a fishing trip in northern Minnesota, she recalls her troubled older sister's death at 22 from an overdose of antidepressants; on another trip, she works up the courage to tell her husband that she is leaving him and that she is attracted to women. Although consistently insightful, these essays occasionally ramble a little too far and wide. For example, an examination of gender-defined clothing and accessories struggles to contain references both to a catalogue of sensual devices and to Diana, goddess of the hunt; and the latter, like Legler's other classical references and quotes, seems forced. Still, these rare disjointed moments are clearly the result of the experimentation and openness that infuse this book with realism and wisdom. (Nov.)
Legler, a lifelong hunter and angler, explores in a roughly chronological series of essays her relationships with hunting, fishing, killing, nature, her family, her husband, other hunters, and her women friends and lovers. Shorter pieces "Blueberries," and "Mushrooms" evocatively describe these foods' double pleasures: once in the picking and second in the sharing. In other intensely personal essays, she struggles to understand her sister's suicide, her father's distance, and her love for the deer and mallards she hunts. Amidst macho hunters, she muses, "But there has to be space for me; space for me as a woman out here." Legler (creative writing, Univ. of Alaska) has a spare yet vivid style, heavy on sensuous descriptions of sights, sounds, and smells. Recommended for outdoors collections in public libraries.Kathy Ruffle, Coll. of New Caledonia Lib., Prince George, B.C.
Janet St. John
With the down-to-earth accessibility of a Sue Hubbell, Legler writes about real life--gardening, hunting, marriage, divorce, family dysfunction--with sincerity and unabashed honesty. Through the course of this "notebook" (perhaps more aptly titled "A Woman's Notebook" ), Legler courageously confronts profound wounds: her sister's suicide, a troubled relationship with her father, and her suppressed lesbianism. The chapters are titled but read like one continuous flow, one journey toward self-awareness. There may have been a selfish, therapeutic process behind the writing of this book, but the power of what emerges in sections like "Wildflowers," "Beautiful Land," and "Northern Hearts" cannot be denied--for it is charged by a genuine need to discover, to reveal emotional truths and come to terms with both the wondrous and perplexing aspects of living.