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HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Martial Arts, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

A Peculiar Reluctance

My latest in The American Conservative:


"Mostly, however, the crisis of black-on-black violence has long been met with a peculiar reluctance born of good intentions, timidity, ideological blinkering, tribalism, and political cynicism—a reluctance to speak plainly and apply broad social pressure directly to the problem."

A Gift

 Sure sign of approaching Spring. 


We enjoyed a nice warm, late winter day here in North Texas. Addy, my six year-old granddaughter, fetched a little flathead snake from the garden. No hesitation. This is not unusual - and what I love most about her.  

The Old Ways


For the past several months, I've been drawn back to nature writing, a genre that, to my opinion, has declined over the past decade or so. As with so much of what passes for literature nowadays, I'm seeing way too much identity politics, too much narcissm, too many instances of "at the intersection of ..." in books and essays peddled as nature writing. I don't object to these approaches in principle. Rather, I'm tired of the obsessions. 


A work succeeds, in my opinion, when it makes me want to go at once to the places described or to get out into  wild or semi-wild places close to home. A quarter of the way through The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, I ordered a new rucksack to replace my worn-out 1990s pack, and a twig/alcohol stove to replace the hateful, noisy, wasteful cannister stove I've carried for thirty years. 


Alone and with friends, Macfarlane walks the old foot and cart paths, the livestock trails of the British Isles, and sails to the bird islands of northwest Scotland. As much as I enjoyed his treks in Spain, Palestine and Asia, being a homebody (with exceptions), I most enjoyed his walks on his beloved chalk downs. Along the way, we meet writers who came before: Edward Thomas, Nan Shepherd, and others I look forward to reading. 


The Old Ways sat on my shelf for several years before I picked it up and settled in. Had I gotten to it sooner, that new rucksack would've been well broken-in by now. 

Silent We Stood Is Now Available in Trade Paperback


My novel Silent We Stood is now available in trade paperback. You can get the best price by ordering directly from my publisher, Texas Tech University Press. As soon as I can get a few cases, I'll offer  signed, personalized copies through this site. In the meantime, order away. Your current support makes my furture projects possible. I truly appreciate every reader. 

I’m Getting Out-Fished By My Grandson

Cade with a nice Southern California largemouth. 


Last September, my grandson Cade and I spent a few days fishing for westslope cutthroat trout in northern Idaho. I count those days among my very best. I consider cutthroats the most beautiful of all trout, perfectly matched to their home in the Idaho Panhandle. At the end of the trip, Cade resloved to go back home to Southern California, find his home water and fish it often. He did just that. Within a few days, photos of him and his girlfriend Ashley with nice bass caught in various suburban ponds began to arrive by text message almost nightly. He is living well where he is. Depending on the water, he fishes with a fly rod or convetional tackle. Unlike me, he doesn't get hung up in purity or need of perfection. I'm watching, and trying to learn.