Friday, March 4, 2011
Friday's Forgotten Book: Neil Gunn's BLOOD HUNT
BLOOD HUNT by Neil M. Gunn, first published in London by Faber & Faber, 1951. My copy is the 2007 trade paperback edition, scanned above, available at Amazon.
This book shares its title with an Ian Rankin (Jack Reacher) thriller, and also with a number of other westerns and mysteries. Neil Gunn's Blood Hunt is probably the most forgotten of the bunch. It is a crime novel but, like Wendell Berry's Watch with Me that I discussed here recently, one in which the protagonist steps out of the duality, breaking the cycle of confrontation and revenge. Thus it too does not fit the standard formula of genre.
American publishers usually insist on the formula, though some exceptions immediately come to mind--Leif Enger's Peace Like a River and Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone: A Novel. Like these, Neil Gunn's Blood Hunt is a crime novel, but one with pastoral and naturalistic elements.
The protagonist, Sandy, is a widower who retires from the sea to live out his remaining days in the pastoral highlands. A local village boy involved in a love triangle kills his rival in a fight and runs off. Sandy befriends the lad who is being hunted by the police. The plot is simple, but the story is driven by Gunn's characterizations and the underlying mythic and naturalistic motifs.
After reading this one, I came on-line to search for the author's other works, especially his novel The Well at the World's End (Canongate Classic) and his autobiographical The Atom of Delight. I also read John Burn's excellent study of the author, A Celebration of the Light: Zen in the Novels of Neil Gunn. I highly recommend all of these.
This is a tag-along to Pattinase's Forgotten Book Friday series. Be sure to check out this week's other entries at these links:
John Norris (to come later)
Be sure to check out J. F. Norris's entry at my favorite crime novel blog, The Rap Sheet. The link is here.