Pour yourself a cup of tea, curl up on the couch, and open up Paula Young Lee’s latest book, Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat. And be prepared to laugh out loud. Often.
You should find your copy of Paula’s book on your shelf next to Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Bible, obscure cookbooks, and various dictionaries. (Seriously, if you haven’t read these books already, you will want them handy to understand Paula’s hilarious and frequent references!) It will also help to know who Sweeney Todd is, to have recently watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and to be familiar with The Beatles.
If this confuses you and intrigues you, it should. All this, and so much more, is found in this delightful memoir by a Korean-American preacher’s daughter who “travels the world, refuses to get married, and learns to hunt from her boyfriend’s conservative family.”
Deer Hunting in Paris takes the reader on a journey from Paris, France, to Paris, Maine, with detours to her past as a middle child growing up in small towns in Maine. Along this journey, Paula shares her thoughts on God, life, death, nourishment, and relationships to one another. She craftily examines these meaty subjects by tying them to mundane concerns of day-to-day life to which all of us can relate.
- About the size of a deer: “The buck weighed in at 195 lbs. of hide, muscle, and hooves. The same as John (her boyfriend) standing naked in a snowdrift wearing nothing but boots.”
- About moose hunting: [John]: “I told you, a smaller caliber will kill it but it won’t stop it.” [Paula]: “‘What, like it turns them into zombies?’ John scowls. He does not have a sense of humor about moose hunting.”
- About butchering: “Blinking, I see the deer that used to be, a creature tilting gorgeously through the mud and green. Then I refocus, and see rump roasts and steaks.”
- About sighting in a 30.06 and relationships: “‘We’re going to run a patch through the bore after groups of three, okay?’ It probably says something about our relationship that I now know what he means.”
Deer Hunting in Paris is the perfect book for so many readers. It is for every one of your friends who, after looking at a picture of you with blood up to your elbows beside your kill, raises an eyebrow and thinks, “You put your hand where? And pulled out what? Why?” It is for anyone who can take on a serious subject and look at it with a little bit of common sense and great sense of humor.
For hunters: Deer Hunting in Paris will help you understand how non-hunters in your life might view your lifestyle.
For non-hunters: This book may help you understand why many people choose to hunt (for meat) and may help you avoid an immediate rush to judgment when you see a picture of a camo-clad man kneeling beside a big buck.
For those in between: Deer Hunting in Paris was written for you! It bridges the gap between lifelong hunters and those who only know of lifelong hunters.
Oh, and for those who read “Out, out damn spot!” and get the reference, you just have to read this book for the heck of it. You’ll love it.