New fiction crush: Martin Millar.

Charmed, I'm sure.

Here's a short list of things in which I am completely uninterested: hunting, Western Americana and American history, camping and outdoorsy stories of any kind, and buffalo (or bison; they're the same thing).

Buffalo And yet? I managed to make it a good way through Steven Rinella's new book American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. It's Rinella's travelogue/history/outdoor adventure memoir, in which he tracks both the history and lore of the American buffalo, as well as (more literally) an actual buffalo that he's hunting in the wilds of Alaska. Although he was interested in buffalo and the history of the West for a long time, the impetus for Rinella's narrative was his winning one of twenty-four annual permits issued to hunt a buffalo in Alaska.

So why on earth did I pick up such a book? Well, the short answer is that some authors completely charm me, and when they do, I'm dedicated to tracking down all the books they write. Rinella is also the author of The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, which was one of my favorite books of 2005, and in which he sought to hunt, trap, capture, or otherwise procure all the ingredients to be used in Auguste Escoffier's 1903 Le Guide Culinaire cookbook. So, even though this is not a book I would have gravitated to because of its subject, I did enjoy a large part of it (I didn't get the whole thing read, although it was very good, largely because I decided what I'd rather do is go back and re-read The Scavenger's Guide). But if you have any interest in the subjects I listed above, I'd recommend this one. Although, if you are not into graphic descriptions of preparing an animal to be eaten (i.e., butchered) then I'd skip it.

But Rinella is charming, no doubt about it. Consider: "The bulk of buffalo history is set in the geologic epoch known as the Pleistocene, which spanned from about two milion years ago to ten thousand years ago. Of the geologic epochs, the Pleistocene is by far my favorite. Its relationship to the modern world reminds me of my own relationship to my grandparents: their lives were distant and obscure enough that it's difficult for me to really know and understand them, but what I do know about them helps explain a lot about how I turned into the kind of person I am."

You just have to kind of like a guy who has a favorite geologic era, don't you? I do. Have a good weekend, all.