Tuesday, March 03, 2009
American Buffalo by Stephen Rinella
For fun, I made a list of all the books I read last year. After I was done, I looked it over and realized that 95% of it was juvenile fiction with the other 5% being popular adult fiction. My friend Bridget did the same and she had her's categorized. One of her categories was "NPR-type books" and it had 12 books in it. Good grief. I looked at my list, and then looked at her list, I thought, "It's no wonder my mind is turning to oatmeal."
So, I decided to read some books that I heard about on NPR, the first of which being American Buffalo. The author is an extreme mountain man (who reminded me a lot of Brian) who has been fascinated with buffalo from a young age. He enters a lottery for the opportunity to go hunt a wild buffalo in Alaska. The book is about his experiences hunting the buffalo and intertwined with the narrative is the entire history of buffalo in North America.
The parts about him hunting are not that interesting and border on gross during the parts where he actually kills and butchers the animal. But the history of the buffalo is, well, fascinating. To Tyler's chagrin, I had the word vomit about it. For example, I thought it was interesting that the reason the buffalo were killed off so fast is that there was an advancement in the tanning process that allowed the winter coats to be processed. Previous to that, only summer coats could be processed allowing the buffalo to be able to regenerate their numbers during the winter/spring. I also thought it was interesting when the author makes the point that the Indians used every part of the buffalo, but they didn't use every part of every buffalo. They used what they needed at the time and left the rest.
I didn't think I liked this book, and I guess I complained a lot about how it wasn't over yet when Tyler said, "for a book you dislike so much, you sure talk about it a lot." So, maybe I did like it after all.