Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jim Fergus Interview

Upland bird hunting, like flyfishing, is a pursuit to which reflection (self and otherwise) and other literary musings come naturally. This assertion is, I believe, borne out in the unusually large number of fine writers (both hook-and-bullet and "other") who are drawn to the cloister.

Jim Fergus is one of those writers. He was a pretty active freelancer back in the nineties, and I always enjoyed reading his stories in the various sporting mags. He also branched out into online writing some, with the long-defunct AllOutdoors website, among others. But it was his first book, "A Hunter's Road" for which most upland guys remember Fergus. It's become a sort of bird-hunting literary standard since it was first published back in '92, and for good reason: it's a damn good book.

His follow-up, "The Sporting Road" is a fine book in its own right, but the stories in it have a slight whiff of "on assignment" (naturally, since some of them are adapted from magazine assignments) that seems absent in "A Hunter's Road." There's a sense of discovery and wide-eyed wonder to the whole book. It remains my favorite of his, and one I will always wish I could have written.

Plus, I have a tenuous ancillary connection to the book in that I know and used to occasionally hunt and train dogs with one of the people Fergus wrote about in "A Hunter's Road." I know, it's not much, but I'll take it...

Anyway, Fergus, like many other genuinely talented writers of that era, gradually disappeared from the hook-and-bullet scene, either forced out by a seismic shift toward flackness and dumbshittery, or to focus on real writing.

Fergus published two novels, "One Thousand White Women" and "The Wild Girl" but as far as I know he never did write another hook-and-bullet story with the exception of a feature in the May, 2011 issue of F&S about an annual gathering of old fart trout bums. I thought he may publish more, but I haven't seen his byline since, and I wondered what had become of him.

I know that Steve Bodio wrote a dustjacket blurb for "A Hunter's Road" so maybe he can offer some insight...

But then a few days ago, a fellow freelancer/hunting buddy/literary bum sent me, out of the blue, a link to an interview with Jim Fergus, apparently the first American interview he's ever given (but he's still pretty big in France, apparently).

It's pretty entertaining and offers some good insight into the writing life. It's nice to see Fergus still kicking. And check out that sweet Airstream (wonder if it's the same one from "A Hunter's Road" or a new one?). That's how I want to live when I grow up...

(Embedding is apparently verboten, but here's the link...)


  1. What a nice piece, so glad they let it run 30 mins instead of trying to clip it down to 5 or 10.

  2. Thanks for the Fergus update, man. Good stuff. Big fan of "A Hunter's Road," a kind of bible for the rest of our kind who've also read Kerouac. What a humble, thoughtful guy JF is. As an adaptive agent in the "seismic shift toward flackness and dumbshittery" a wave of nostalgia for the Typewriter Era is inevitable here. Can't even tell you if "The Paris Review" is still published. Time for a reread.

  3. Oh, man, tell me about it, Steve... Adaptive agent, indeed...

  4. "Hunter's Road," was a great read, the interview...not so much.