Hunter's Moon

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

I started and stopped this one so many times.  I just couldn't get into it or enjoy it.  Descriptions of hunting and airing of grievances made for a very dark story.  A lot of men being, I assume, manly.  I can sometimes read about all fo these things, but not at once.  I forced myself to read one section at a time until I finally finished.  It may be for others.  It may be more for men.  It was not for me.
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Such a great collection/novel.  I love how everyone's life is touching everyone else's story.  I look forward to more from Caputo.
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I read the intros to a handful of reviews of this book as I couldn’t get a clear picture from the title and cover of what kind of book this would be. The reviews cited a preponderance of male characters and scenes of hunting. While they’re not wrong, I didn’t find those features to detract from the book, as the other reviews implied. Multiple stories, loosely connected to a single place, but not a specific time, build a connected community of individuals with lives that are dramatic or quiet by turns. But regardless of the outer or inner turmoil, the author meditates on meaning, be it interpersonal or cosmic, in a manner that gives equal weight (or lightness) to all. I’ve shifted my reading list to include this author’s work as next in line.
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The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a beautiful place where men come to hunt grouse, deer, and caribou, or to fish, but the men who come here carry more than their hunting gear and sometimes come looking for more than wildlife. Some carry the burden of alcoholism, some are fathers and sons who are distanced with broken relationships that in ways seem irreparable, some are carrying the burden of war, another is an angry murderer. This is mostly about men, but one of the stories is about a woman who also carries a burden of loss and struggles to redefine herself. The title calls this a novel in stories, but while the stories are connected by characters or by theme and definitely by place, I can’t say that it read like a novel. Having said that, I love how these stories were connected. I did not relate to the hunting and there was a good bit of that. I did however, relate to the characters whose experiences and burdens were very realistic.

While several characters appear in more than one story, the character of Will Treadwell appears in all  but one, I believe. In two of the them, he is the central character. Will is a Vietnam vet, a tavern owner and part time hunting guide.  In one of the stories he faces the violence of an angry man and in another appears as a counselor to veterans. He’s my favorite character. I also felt for the character of Lisa Williams from “THE GUEST” which is the single story with a woman at it’s center. She is also a recurring character trying to make sense of things after an earlier tragedy. A word of warning - there is some violence here and there is hunting of animals for anyone particularly sensitive. In spite of this, I found this to be well written and the author has a keen sense of the realistic emotions of flawed characters that are very relatable. The writing held me and I found it to be beautifully descriptive in places which described this atmospheric place, enough so that I would try another book by Caputo.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Henry Holt and Company through NetGalley.
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The writing is excellent with word pictures that vividly show the action in the stories and acquaint the readers with the characters.  The stories are all rather dark and depressing , though, and definitely geared towards a male audience.  I'm not a fan of hunting so I couldn't really enjoy the book but I do see it's value for its fine writing.  It's just not a book for me.
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Published by Henry Holt and Co. on August 6, 2019

Hunter’s Moon is billed as “a novel in stories.” The first few stories appear to be related only by location (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) and hunting. The eventual reappearance of characters in earlier stories begins to justify the use of the word “novel,” although this is really a collection of stories that are linked not just by recurring characters but by the theme of men searching for ways to cope with damaged lives.

Hunting makes the difference between life and death stark, as do these stories. They aren’t the kind of hunting stories that might have appeared in Boy’s Life. One begins with this sentence: “I’ve understood why a son might be driven to kill a cruel father, but a father murdering his son, no matter how delinquent, has always struck me as an unthinkable crime against nature, right up to the moment when my son made me think it.”

The first story sets the stage for several that follow. Paul Egremont and Tom Muhlen must babysit their friend Bill Erickson on a hunting trip. Bill’s wife has instructed them to put Zoloft in his orange juice and to keep him from drinking. Soon after the story begins, Bill is dead. The circumstances of the death are initially ambiguous, and that ambiguity comes back to haunt his widow in a later story. Her story involves making a new life and meeting a new (married) hunter.

Jeff is ostensibly on a hunting trip in the UP with his elderly father Hal, having been persuaded by his siblings to take the old man off their hands for a bit. Jeff and Hal drive to a cabin to meet Jeff’s three friends. When they aren’t hunting, and even when they are, they fill time by airing old grievances.

In the most eventful story, Will Treadwell is hired as a guide to takes two cops bowhunting. A perpetually offended local redneck decides to go hunting for Will and the cops. The encounter brings back Will’s memories of Vietnam. A later story addresses Will’s poor adjustment to retirement after selling a bar, some years after he last worked as a guide. He’s trying to forget all the pain in his past rather than learning how to live with it, and it is changing him into a person he doesn’t want to be.

The son who makes his father contemplate murder is Trey, son of Paul Egremont, and Paul’s thought occurs not on a UP hunting trip but on a fishing trip in Alaska. Neither he nor his son are fundamentally bad people. The question is whether the man-against-nature challenge they confront will inspire either or both of them to gain a new perspective on their lives and relationship.

Will’s hunting friend Phil tells the last story. Phil, like Will, is a Vietnam veteran. Phil tells of his experience as a combat journalist; Will tells the story of his former bartender, a post-9/11 veteran whose life has gone to ruin. Will is now volunteering at a wellness center as a mentor for veterans who need help readjusting. The center was founded by characters we meet in an earlier story. Phil’s reaction to their New Age methodology lightens a serious story about the horror of war and its impact on people who witness indiscriminate destruction. As Phil comes to realize, a true war story has “no heroes, no excitement, and no redemption” and the people who tell them are also, like the dead and maimed they describe, casualties of war.

As we reencounter characters from earlier stories, we see how events shape lives, how people change in response to their experiences, sometimes reimaging their lives and learning to find comfort inside their skin. At the same time, the final story makes clear that taking control of our lives after tragic or disheartening experiences is challenging. It takes time to make positive changes. Sometimes help is required, but nobody changes until they are ready, and we have very little ability to hasten that journey.

The stories have a collective power, an energy that builds. The last story would be powerful if it stood alone, but the reader’s familiarity with Will adds an extra dimension of understanding. With the exception of the story that focuses on Bill’s widow, this is an exceptionally masculine book, but it portrays solitary men with an honesty that male-centric “tough guy” thrillers never achieve. Some of the stories are stronger than others, but they work together to convey a deep understanding of broken lives and wounded men.

RECOMMENDED
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HUNTER'S MOON by Philip Caputo (A Rumor of War) is a series of seven interconnected stories set mainly in Michigan's upper peninsula. Dealing with veterans and the trauma of war, this is a very dark book, with one story leading up to a suicide and another involving a character who is "a mean little bastard with a vicious temper."  I agree that it is well-written, but found it to be too violent and disturbing to recommend even though Kirkus and Library Journal gave it a starred review.
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A nice combination of male centric short stories. Would have made a wonderful Father’s Day gift for the reader dad. I loved the reality of the characters flowing in and out of each other’s lives.
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I am always on the hunt for books that are outside of my usual comfort zone. This book especially caught my eye since each chapter is a stand alone short story, all with the focus around a small town community. The way each chapter was interconnected was so beautifully done! This book is very male-centric and focuses a lot on hunting, but it was a neat experience for me to read it nonetheless! I probably wouldn’t pick it up again, but I’m intrigued to read more stories written in this style!
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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.

Hunter’s Moon at Henry Holt and Co. | Macmillan
Phil Caputo author site
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If Philip Caputo were a woman and the characters in his book of interrelated short stories were primarily women instead of men, “Hunter’s Moon” would be ghettoized as “women’s fiction,” because the men in it wrestle with the kinds of emotional issues—broken marriages, parenting challenges, PTSD, friendship in late middle age—that are hallmarks of that so-called genre. Luckily for him, Caputo’s book won’t be designated as primarily for men, which is a good thing because I (a woman who has never touched a gun and is one of the least outdoorsy people you can imagine) read it and loved it and appreciated the insight it gave me into the struggles of men my age, which is mid 50s. Set primarily in Michigan’s wild Upper Peninsula (one story is set in Alaska) and with hunting and outdoors life as the unifying theme, “Hunter’s Moon” follows several men but is primarily the story of Will Treadwell, a bar owner and part-time hunting guide still haunted by his service in Vietnam. Will recurs throughout “Hunter’s Moon,” as a bit player in some of the earlier and later stories and then as the main character in what was for me the centerpiece story thread, a violent encounter with a vengeful local man that forces Will to come to terms with his past. All of the stories are beautifully written in an unvarnished style which manages to convey complicated emotions without any sentimentality or mawkishness, but Caputo is also brilliant at capturing the wild and untamed allure of the Upper Peninsula in lovely nature writing that would be worth reading the book for in and of itself. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this place and in a culture that I am completely unfamiliar with.

One note: Hunting is a major part of this book, and Caputo doesn’t shy away from presenting the details. I was fine with this, because I think it’s important and authentic to the setting and the stories, but readers who suspect that these scenes would be upsetting may want to pass. Conversely, “Hunter’s Moon” is the perfect book for any avid hunter or outdoorsman.

Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt Publishers for providing me with an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.
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Hunter's Moon is a collection of eight shorts all set in and around the small community of Manitou Falls and the scarcely populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The major participants - Will Treadwell, Tom Muhlen and Paul Egremont - are all middle-aged Manitou natives and have much in common - they played football in high school, fought the war in Vietnam and brought home trama, a touch of psychosis, and nightmares.  They all function best when they have independence at work and at home.  The basic life they knew growing up -hunting, fishing, tramping through the woods with a  favorite dog - it is those precise touchstones that holds them on the right side of sane. Most of the time.  These men are the building blocks of this set of tales.  It is through their eyes that we see those citizens who are tough enough to make a life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  

This was an excellent set of stories, painting a precise, honest dialog that defines the baby boomer generation, those who fought in 'Nam and those who received their introduction to that particular horror on the five o'clock nightly news. The majority of Americans would say this lifestyle passed away in the 1970s.  That, for the most part, it actually did is what makes the raw nature of the far north and desert southwest the exceptions, with a slower pace and basic back to earth way of life that can allow your soul time to heal.   

I received a free electronic copy of this collection of short stories from Netgalley, Philip Caputo, and Henry Holt & Co.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read this book of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.
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Hunter's Moon, a collection of stories set mostly in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and mainly about hunters wouldn't seem like an obvious beach read. Nonetheless, the beach is exactly where I read the majority of this book, enthralled by the Midwestern sensibility of the characters and the attention to location. It had me (almost) wishing I was on the shore of Lake Superior in slightly cooler climes.
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3.5 but rounding up because well written, I learned some things [mostly about hunting], and not my usual reading material. Matter of fact, I thought this book quite male centric.

The setting: Michigan's Upper Peninsula, "...where a cast of recurring characters move into and out of each other’s lives, building friendships, facing loss, confronting violence, trying to bury the past or seeking to unearth it."

So though interconnected stories--with recurring characters--also can stand alone.

Powerful, emotional, violent.

Some very evocative descriptions:

"rebellious hair"
"Male squalor"

And prose that reveals much more than a simple sentence:

"Trey responds with what used to be called the silent treatment but is now known as passive aggressiveness."

"Dakota flew through her adolescence as a plan through the sound barrier--a lot of turbulence..."

and much more.

At times, I sailed through but didn't want to rush because I wanted to be sure I had a handle on all the characters, there was much heft in many sentences, and the plots moved somewhat slowly. Not my usual read, but glad I persevered. BUT, not a fan of the resolution of the chapter, "The Guest"--though not sure what would have been more satisfactory--and no spoiler from me.
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A Philip Caputo novel can always be counted on as an opportunity to get deeply inside the heads of some interesting fictional characters, a chance to remind ourselves about what makes people in the real world - including ourselves - tick. Even though some readers may still want to quibble over whether or not Hunter’s Moon is a novel or a collection of short stories despite the fact that the book explicitly labels itself "a novel in stories," there is definitely plenty to learn about human nature in Caputo's latest.

All but one of the book’s seven interconnected, chronologically-ordered stories are set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the exception being the one that takes place in a remote part of Alaska.  Oddly enough, placing one of the stories in the wilds of Alaska makes clear just how remote and wild the Upper Peninsula itself is, and why so many of the damaged souls in Caputo’s stories find some kind of comfort there.   Caputo describes northern Michigan so well that the Upper Peninsula in a way becomes the character that binds his stories together; it is the one constant between six of them and a first cousin to the Alaskan setting of the seventh.  

These are stories about men and women who are not quite managing to live the lives they had expected for themselves, and their disappointment shows.  They include stories about a man struggling to keep a second marriage alive despite his personal demons; a father who really, really dislikes his young adult son; a son who equally dislikes his 85-year-old father with whom he can’t remember ever getting along; and others about people trying to cope with a shared act of sudden violence that forever changed their lives for the worst.  

This being a Philip Caputo book, many of its central characters are veterans of America’s recent wars, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, and what they experienced in those wars is something they still think about every day of their lives. This is particularly true of the poignant story that closes the book, one in which a young veteran struggles to cope with the guilt that he brought home from the war with him, but it is a theme that occurs in several of the other stories.  Even the collection's most prominent character is largely defined by what he experienced in Vietnam decades earlier.  

Hunter’s Moon is vintage Philip Caputo; his fans and longtime readers will not be disappointed.
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I really wanted to love this book that was set in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. As a Michigander myself, I really wanted to connect to the landscape and the characters in this story. I honestly think that this book is just more geared towards a male audience. I had such a hard time feeling for the main characters, and the descriptions of the wilderness seemed so flat and lifeless to me. Unfortunately this one was just not a book that I could get into, which was such a bummer!

*Thank you so much Netgalley for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review*
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Very different book from what I expected,  but interesting.  In some places I thought a little hard to follow,  and different/
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If you are a man and love hunting and reading this book maybe for you. If not well it leaves a lot to be desired. The stories connect but thats about it. It was very hard to read.
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Anthologies are not my preferred reading material, but this collection, authored by Philip Caputo, had a hook; it was subtitled "A novel in stories." Also, knowing the writer's reputation, I guessed that the benefits would far outweigh any problem I might have with the brevity of the story. That was, honestly, the best choice in book selection I have ever made. This group of tales, call them what you will, are breathtaking in their beauty, humanity, spirit, and grit.

Of the seven interconnected stories in "Hunter's Moon," six play out in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the exception occurs in Alaska's wilderness. Brilliant descriptions of each area's isolation, harsh climate, and wild majesty are a backdrop for a set of characters so vivid you will think of them as living, not fictional. As the scenes unroll, you feel the player's thoughts, attitudes, and moods evolve because you have been in that frame of mind or situation yourself. The subjects of these tales are equally realistic and timely: two old friends shielding another; a father's need to save a wayward son; a young widow's journey; a son's efforts to cope with an aged and resentful father; veterans of past and present-day wars trying to deal with their inner demons. Each of the seven is sharp, a polished diamond in prose;' and sometimes they will cut you in unexpected ways.  

Caputo is a storyteller's storyteller, and "Hunter's Moon" is a display of talent that only comes along once in a great while. I will never forget the way these stories made me feel, and I look forward to rereading them many times in years to come. I recommend "Hunter's Moon" with only this caveat; if you cannot stand hunting or soldiers, which are recurring themes, you may come away disappointed.

My thanks to publisher Henry Holt and Company, along with dear old NetGalley, for providing the uncorrected digital galley on which I have based this review.
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Not my typical read both in subject matter and writing style. Despite those things, I do enjoy Caputo’s writing and this was no exception. 

Thanks to Netgalley for the free read in exchange for an honest review.
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