Goodreads will be giving away two free copies of THIS SIDE OF A WILDERNESS. You can enter to win here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19896848-this-side-of-a-wilderness
Riverfeet Press would like to thank everyone who joined us at the Bemidji Brewing Co. Taproom for the release of THIS SIDE OF A WILDERNESS, by Daniel J. Rice. The first print run sold out that night, but the title is currently available at amazon.com, and will have copies for sale at Kat’s Book Nook, and Brigid’s Pub where you will receive $4 off a pint with the purchase of a book.
Listen to Daniel’s interview as he discusses living alone in a tent, writing and publishing his novel, and preparing for the release of his book This Side of a Wilderness.
Riverfeet press is proud to release This Side of a Wilderness, by Daniel J. Rice. “If Thoreau had written Walden as a narrative fiction, and designed his protagonist in the fashion of a Hermann Hesse character, then it would have resembled this novel.”
You can view the Pioneer press arts column here: Alone in the Wild
And visit the author’s webpage here: Daniel J. Rice
This book is now available on amazon.com, and will be released at the Bemidji Brewing Co. Taproom on Dec. 6th. If you have the opportunity to make it there to purchase a book, you will receive a free beer.
The day was bright and the tree he waited in was turning yellow and orange for autumn. The air was calm, so calm that the squirrels on the forest floor could be heard many feet away. They were each perched in a tree on opposite sides of a small meadow. He knew which tree his brother was in, but could not see him for the camouflage blended well with the colors of the forest. The flask of whiskey in his coat pocket was getting low, if there were no deer within an hour he would walk back to camp and fill it. It would be time for dinner then, and there were brats buried in a cooler in a shady part of camp. But he didn’t want to think about that yet. He kept his focus on the meadow, watching for shapes and movements not made by the vegetation.
The afternoon was silent which made it difficult to stay focused. This god damned world was always silent when he wanted to yell. It was always loud when he wanted silence. She had been the mother of his daughter, and his soul companion for many years. It was a complicated and uneasy sort of love, and neither of them had planned for it. Her especially, having to sneak away from her husband at the beginning to spend time with him. This was part of why he could never fully trust her, but he had been dishonest too, in his own ways. He never thought they would last forever, but then the sickness came. A good man would never leave a woman in poor health. He never knew if he was a good man until the circumstances demanded it.
It was a sense not attributed to sight or sound that first made him aware of the deer. His eyes moved directly to the thick shrubs just as they first started to move. It was at least eighty yards away which would be a hell of a shot for a man’s first kill. He pulled the bow up with his left hand and removed an arrow from the quiver around his back. The buck stepped out of the shrubs and slowly proceeded through the tall grass. He watched it, the way it moved gracefully, and he knew that even though this animal looked like others of its kind, it was completely unique. Wasn’t that just like life, to make him romantic when he should be strong. He threaded the arrow and drew back the string.
There was no sound except the thud of the arrow as it pierced the chest cavity. He sat calmly in the tree stand as the deer took ten fast paces in a straight line, and then circled several times and fell. He hung the bow from a branch and removed the quiver from his shoulder. It was ten ladder steps to the ground where he removed his knife from the scabbard and gripped it firmly as he walked towards the animal. He had brought her camping here, at their families land, only two months ago. The doctors had told her to rest and that she should be hospitalized, but she wanted to live life while she had it. They stayed up that night drinking wine and making love beside the campfire as their child slept in the tent. The wolves howled and they howled back. It was powerful to communicate with the world in its most primordial language.
The eyes were wide open and frightened as he stood over the deer. Its back legs twitched rapidly as if it were trying to run but could find no footing. He knelt down and placed his hand over the eyes. With the skill and technique of a man much more experienced than himself, he slit the throat from left to right. The blood first squirted out, and then gushed and fell like a yoke from its shell. The red color soaked his knee that rested on the soft soil beside the limp body. He wiped the blood from his hand onto his pant leg. He was with her when she died, in their house on a Tuesday afternoon. She told him it was time but he didn’t believe her. He told their daughter to go in her room and play with her toys while he held his lovers hand in the bathtub until the breathing stopped. He told her to fight it and tomorrow they would go to the lake and watch the loons. She was dead when the ambulance arrived but they didn’t pronounce it until at hospital early the next morning. They held to her as long as she could stay. A wind came on strong and blew a leaf from its tree. The leaf tumbled and turned and twisted then landed in the puddle of blood beside him. He looked up at the sky and saw mostly blue with a few patches of cloud. He raised up his knife and slammed it into the animal’s chest. It felt hollow and soft and lifeless. He stabbed it again, and again, and again.
When his brother arrived he said it was an impressive kill, and that some men hunt their entire life for a deer of this size. He looked at the pummeled body with an arrow sticking out of its chest, and at the puddle of blood he knelt in, and he knew it wasn’t good enough. There was emptiness inside of him, a hunger he had always restrained, but now demanded attention to ever feel whole. His brother stood silently over him, looking at the slit throat and multiple incisions from the knife blade, but he didn’t say another word. They gut the animal there in the meadow and carried the carcass through the trees to camp.