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The Fragrance of Grass

Overview

An ode to one man's enduring love affair with hunting, The Fragrance of Grass stands as a testament to Guy de la Valdène's deep affection for, and abiding respect of, the natural world and its inhabitants. Set in places as far afield as France and Montana, Saskatchewan and Florida, this gorgeously written book is an elegant treatise on dogs, birds, and wildlife, food, wine, and women.

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The Fragrance of Grass

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Overview

An ode to one man's enduring love affair with hunting, The Fragrance of Grass stands as a testament to Guy de la Valdène's deep affection for, and abiding respect of, the natural world and its inhabitants. Set in places as far afield as France and Montana, Saskatchewan and Florida, this gorgeously written book is an elegant treatise on dogs, birds, and wildlife, food, wine, and women.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Guy de la Valdene's memoir, The Fragrance of Grass, soars like a condor high above the arid landscape of our era's largely flimsy, narrow and shallow sporting books. It is an extraordinary stew of poignant reflections, deeply felt sentiment and sensitive introspection having equal measures of pride and regret. Time and again there is demonstrated a fearless willingness to stare deeply into the human conscience while the whole is sewn together with absolutely impeccable language. In my view, this may well be the defining masterpiece of this genre in our time." -Russell Chatham The love of hunting and the love of animals in cultivated people gives rise to a sometimes rueful, sometimes triumphant intensity of spirit which has rarely been so well expressed as in Guy de la Valdene's book. Few have had as wide an opportunity—so unpretentiously expressed—to find out what drives, rewards and worries us about hunting. -Thomas McGuane Valdene's wondrous field memoir is a rich sportsman's miscellany — memorable and erudite fowling lore, camp etiquette, ballistics, poaching ethics, glorious anecdote, bloody ducks, persistent bawdiness, and better wine than you or I'll ever drink — all elegantly spun as an affectionate and sentimental education of loss and renewal. It's a terrific book. - Richard Ford The Fragrance of Grass is an exquisite, big-hearted celebration of a life grandly spent outdoors. Any novelist who'd try to invent a character like Guy de La Valdene would be doomed to fall short. He is a unique philosopher- scoundrel with a wise, gentle heart, and he writes like a dream. —Carl HiaasenThe Fragrance of Grass is destined to become one of the very smal number of true hunting classics. Valdene's writing is lovely indeed and the book is fresh, direct and utterly original.—Jim Harrison Capturing Proust and honoring both Thoreau and Hemingway, Guy de la Valdene has carved out a new and delightful voice in American beauty both for outdoorsman and mere observers alike. The recipes for a seasoned hunter's delight in the joys of his life are inspirational and delicious and the succulent prose a true pleasure to savour, morsel after morsel. This is quite simply the most tasty, satisfying and fascinating ragout that I have tasted in years.—Mario BataliYou won't find a living writer who knows more than Guy de la Valdene on his three favorite subjects: birds on the wing, birds on the table, and the short, happy lives of bird dogs. And in crisply lyrical prose, his memoir confronts the haunting question of whether the beauty of the hunt can ever justify its savagery. —Howell Raines"La Valdène lyrically recounts a rugged lifetime fortified by the land, offering . . . resonant and beautifully written memories of his time in the fields. . . . Savory recipes close out the author's light, lovingly crafted fare. A compact, delightful feast for the senses."—Kirkus Reviews "His view of hunting is, at its deepest level, a joyous melancholy meditation on life and death." —Chris Camuto, Gray's Sporting Journal
Kirkus Reviews

A lifetime outdoorsman shares his wild and wooly travels hunting throughout Europe and North America.

An avid big-game hunter, de la Valdène (Red Stag, 2003, etc.) lyrically recounts a rugged lifetime fortified by the land, offering brief but resonant and beautifully written memories of his time in the fields. He elaborates on hunting protocol and describes his encounters with coveys of partridges (a favorite), various migratory birds, rabbits and coyotes, relating everything with a generously encyclopedic knowledge base. The author writes enthusiastically of his boyhood in a village in Normandy where, at an early age, he begged his father for a shotgun. Instead, he received a BB gun and went about recklessly targeting women's behinds and his mother's precious stemware. Several years and many reprimands later, the boy was graced with the shotguns that would ignite his love of animal pursuit. Though he bestowed honest blessings on his son's hunting adventures, de la Valdène's father "declined to be a party to their execution," yet enjoyed dining on fresh game during hunting season. A summer spent in Scotland shooting pigeons and grouse gave way to experiences with the poaching trade back in Normandy and dog-running in Montana. Currently living on 800 acres of farmland in northern Florida, de la Valdène remains conflicted about his hunting hobby but enjoys his seclusion from "a world whose only contribution is to have left behind its own compost." He writes fondly of developing a newfound respect for the natural peacefulness and wildlife surrounding him. Savory recipes close out the author's light, lovingly crafted fare.

A compact, delightful feast for the senses.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762779772
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/23/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 677,655
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy de la Valdène was born and raised in France. His earlier books include For a Handful of Feathers, and Making Game: An Essay on Woodcock. He is the also the author of a novel, Red Stag. His articles have appeared in Sports Afield and Field & Stream, among other publications. He lives on an 800-acre farm outside of Tallahassee, Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

"I am watching a thousand feathers—grey partridge feathers—floating high on the surface of the pond in front of the cabin I pretend to work in. I have plucked a million feathers from the bodies of all the grey partridge I have cooked in my life, beautiful golden-brown feathers that match the fall colors of the cypress tress that grow on the edge of my pond. It is November and all at once winter includes me. On the porch of the cabin there is a wooden rocking chair, weathered and comfortable, that I sit in every day. On quiet afternoons I think about the slowing growth of the loblolly pines I have been watching for twenty years, the everchanging face of the pond now active with fish, and the condition of the natural world outside of my custody. Today I watch a young osprey hunting below the level of the pine trees glide past the dock. He cocks a disinterested head at the intrusion of feathers drifting on the surface of the water while I comtemplate, with ambivalence, what I know about grey partirdge and what they have meant to me. I have hunted at least one hour a day for three months a year, ever since I was eight years old. That translates into more than 5,000 hours in the field, a lifetime walk that, under different circumstances, might have taken me from Paris to Istanbul and back. If to this hike I add the time I have spent shooting—shotguns at clay pegeons and birds, air rifles at my parents' horses, the farmer's cows and pigs and chickens, and my sister's and her friends' asses—I can safely assume that I have had my hands on the stock of a gun for one whole year of the sixty-plus that I have been around. I like to walk, and I know guns." From the introduction to THE FRAGRANCE OF GRASS

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First Chapter

The Fragrance of Grass


By Guy de la Valdene

Lyons Press

Copyright © 2011 Guy de la Valdene
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780762764143

FROM THE INTRODUCTION

I am watching a thousand feathers—grey partridge feathers—floating high on the surface of the pond in front of the cabin I pretend to work in. I have plucked a million feathers from the bodies of all the grey partridge I have cooked in my life, beautiful golden-brown feathers that match the fall colors of the cypress tress that grow on the edge of my pond. It is November, and all at once winter includes me. 

        On the porch of the cabin there is a wooden rocking chair, weathered and comfortable, that I sit in every day. On quiet afternoons I think about the slowing growth of the loblolly pines I have been watching for twenty years, the everchanging face of the pond now active with fish, and the condition of the natural world outside of my custody. . . .

         I have hunted at least one hour a day for three months a year, ever since I was eight years old. That translates into more than 5,000 hours in the field, a lifetime walk that, under different circumstances, might have taken me from Paris to Istanbul and back. If to this hike I add the time I have spent shooting . . . I can safely assume that I have had my hands on the stock of a gun for one whole year of the sixty-plus that I have been around.

         I like to walk, and I know guns.

 



Continues...

Excerpted from The Fragrance of Grass by Guy de la Valdene Copyright © 2011 by Guy de la Valdene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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