Hunter’s Moon is a collection of short stories centered on an Upper Peninsula community that is oriented toward hunting and fishing tourism. Characters from one story show up in another, tying them together in a a novelistic anthology. The first story, “Blockers,” has three middle-aged men coming together to go game bird hunting, keeping their high school friendship alive, but the high school golden boy is drinking too much and his wife have tasked the others to keep an eye on him and sneak some Zoloft in his orange juice. “Grief” has a father and son on a hunting trip. Their relationship is difficult, at best, and the father is distracted by grief at the loss of his wife.
In “Dreamers” a hunting guide named Will confronts a returned soldier with PTSD leading to a manhunt for a killer. In the “Nature of Love on the Last Frontier”, father and son go hunting for Dall Sheep in Alaska. The son is reckless and rude and the father hopes they can bridge their divide. “Lost” takes us back to Will now dealing with the repercussions of his confrontation, he becomes erratic and angry and insults a friend. When he decides to apologize, he gets lost in the woods. “The Guest” is the first one that centers on a woman, the widow of one of the earlier characters, who opens a B&B and loves it. She has a passionate affair, an episodic one that recurs ever year when he comes for the hunting season. The final story, “Lines of Departure” a writer goes with Will to a retreat. They are going as mentors to vets with PTSD.
I loved Hunter’s Moon. I think my brother would love it but he only reads newspapers and nonfiction. It reminds me a bit of one of my favorite books of all time, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. In fact, Caputo proffers a similar lesson. In fact, consider this from Caputo, “I sensed that Will felt he had heard a true war story—no heroics, no excitement, and no redemption.” Now here is Tim O’Brien, “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it.”
I loved these stories. I thought “The Guest” was a weaker story than the others even though it carries the stories forward and expands our sense of the community. I guess it was that Lisa’s interests were so much smaller than the men in their stories, though I did appreciate her decision at the end and her sense of independence.
I love short stories. When the anthology comes together, weaving people together in story after story it’s even better.
I received an e-galley of Hunter’s Moon from the publisher through NetGalley.