First, I gave the book to my husband, since it was written for guys. Quite simply he said he could not get into the book. The anecdotes and conversational style were not conducive to his reading of the subject matter. True, the book is written as if Fr. Classen is speaking to his buddies after a long day of wild boar bowhunting (and if you do not know anything about wild boar bowhunting, read the book). So, I think it was simply written for a different audience. My husband prefers books on the faith that are very direct and applicable to his life. He doesn't hunt (although, for the record, neither of us are opposed to such sport) and isn't much of an outdoorsman. I guess I shouldn't have handed him the book.
So, in order to do justice to this review, I decided to pick up the book and read it myself. Honestly, I skimmed it. Once again, the stories and jargon definitely do not appeal to me. Several chapter titles can tell you why: Turkey Love, Hog Wild!, and Elk Lust, to name a few. This book definitely targets a very specific audience --- male.
Instead of detailing why I did not enjoy the book, however, let me instead tell you what type of person probably would enjoy this book (in my imagination). To its credit, it is creatively written and theologically sound, and overall an excellent book, just not my style.
This book is for men, preferably men who do some kind of hunting or at least wish they could, but live in a modern world. These men appreciate Tommy Lee Jones, Eddie Van Halen, and a couple of priests telling tales about their adventures in the wilderness, hunting and loving God. Their minds are willing to stretch a bit to understand the comparisons Fr. Classen makes between our spiritual life and sitting in a tree stand before dawn waiting for nature to come alive. He does an excellent job explaining such analogies clearly, but the reader has to be willing to follow them through. Should you know such a man, here is what he will enjoy:
- Fr. Classen's easy-going writing style will inspire men to consider more seriously the virtues of faith, hope, and love while on a turkey shoot.
- Pride and humility will make more sense while hog hunting.
- Greed, envy, and charity come to the surface through the stories of the Trick or Treat Buck and a summertime float trip.
- The perfect fishing trip introduces readers to positive ways to cope with anger and wrath.
- A new humongous outdoor catalog will lead to an evaluation of greed, and he does manage to get to chastity with a great story about his first elk-hunting trip (okay, so I found that one pretty interesting).
- Of course, finally, he explains the opposites of sloth and diligence with an outline of what makes a successful outdoorsman.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice.