Rancher Juan Aragon has begun to revive the Pleistocene, and everyone must pay the bill.
In the high country of southern New Mexico, home of the oldest wilderness and the biggest roadless area in the lower 48, ghosts are stirring, waking shadows of things that haven’t been seen for a hundred years. Reports of iconic beasts and mysterious carcasses filter down from the mountains, while something the newspapers call "The Bosque Bigfoot" is killing cows down by the Rio Grande.
Soon the world’s attention will be fastened on the wildlands of New Mexico, as more than the fate of a single native species is at stake. In his first novel, acclaimed natural history and travel writer Stephen J Bodio, whose 1988 memoir Querencia depicted the landscape and ways of southern New Mexico, and gave many readers their first glimpse of this faraway country, imagines the rebirth of big predators like the grizzlies and jaguar, in his own back yard. All too often discussions of "re-wilding" are abstract, with little thought for their unfolding in the real world, as though the country were a park. In Tiger Country, the effects are real. As viewpoints and people collide, the media, ranchers, naturalists, activists, politicians, and ordinary people must take their stands in the real world, not just in theory. Respectful of all the actors, especially the non-human ones, and in debt to none, Bodio shows the heartbreak of unintended consequences.
At times suspenseful, lyrical, hair-raising, and even funny it is a worthy fiction debut, and Bodio is uniquely qualified to tell it. Biologist, falconer, dog breeder, literary critic, and hunter, born in Boston but a rural New Mexico resident for almost forty years, he knows the wildlife, people, and cultures of his chosen Querencia. Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses, says: "Steve Bodio brings his legendary Renaissance vision to this startling first novel, a work so mammoth in scope and elegant in execution it makes me wish he’d been writing fiction all along. Recalling the edgy best of Ed Abbey and Jim Harrison, and reminiscent of James Carlos Blake’s contemporary border noir, Tiger Country throws modern heroic renegades into the gravitational pull of the ancient past, to encounter the origins of the human condition."
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About the Author
He has published eleven books, and has been editor and anthologist of more, as well as a frequent contributor to magazines. He has been on the masthead of publications as various as the scholarly quarterly English Literary Renaissance and the upscale outdoor magazine Gray's Sporting Journal, where he wrote a book column for eleven years. His articles, essays, and stories have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, and the LA Times Magazine, and in literary quarterlies.
He has a lifelong interest in birds, their behavior, and their relations with humans, as reflected in his books on falcons and pigeons. He has hunted with falcons for almost fifty years, kept rare pigeon breeds, and has bred and trained saluki dogs and their Asian relatives for thirty. He assisted Russian scientist and dog expert Vladimir Beregovoy with his translation of a 19th century Russian hunter's memoir, Notes of an East Siberian Hunter.
Since then he has written An Eternity of Eagles, a profusely illustrated volume he describes as "a natural and social history of all the many kinds of eagles, their evolution, diversity and habits; our relations with them, friendly and unfriendly, from falconry to shooting them from planes." He has also contributed text and introductions to many works about and by artists, including Alan James Robinson, Thomas Quinn, Vadim Gorbatov, and Thomas Aquinas Daly.
Bodio's most unusual work is what he calls "The Book of Books", actually titled A Sportsman's Library, and accurately subtitled "100 Essential, Engaging, Offbeat, and Occasionally Odd Fishing and Hunting Books for the Adventurous Reader". It contains a falconry manual by a medieval emperor, a how-to fly-fish comic book, a seventeenth century poem on wingshooting, and the autobiography of a rat hunter. Well-known writers-Karen Blixen, Hemingway, Ted Hughes, T H White-share space with many lesser known, undeservedly forgotten, or just strange ones-Brian Plummer (Tales of a Rat Hunting Man); Theresa Maggio (Mattanza); Geoffrey Household (Dance of the Dwarfs); and both Setons. And of course, eighty-eight more. Bodio claims he can easily find another hundred, and will, for another collection tentatively titled "...With Trees" after the apocryphal story about the editor who rejected Norman MacLean's A River Runs Through It with the remark "This book has TREES in it!"
Another Asian book, The Hounds of Heaven, is about his travels in Kazakhstan where he found his dogs, the ancient saluki-like tazis of Central Asia. Of it, writer, blogger, and former actor Jameson Parker says: "Steve Bodio is one of America's greatly underrated treasures. He writes like an angel about a wide range of fascinating topics; he is one of the most widely-read and well-educated men I have ever come across, a twenty-first century version of an eccentric Victorian polymath; when he writes about topics close to his heart, he has the rare ability to weave emotion and objective scientific observation together; and he knows (or has known-time has thinned the ranks) practically everyone worth knowing, famous and obscure, rich and poor, artist and scientist, from New Mexico (where he lives physically) to Kazakhstan (where he lives spiritually)."
He still lives in Magdalena, a former cattle drive town in the mountains of southern New Mexico, with his wife, Elizabeth (Libby) Adam Frishman, a second-generation mountaineer, paleoarchaeologist, and former Outward Bound trekking guide.