Remember when I used to do these on a regular basis? I do.
For the second of the Guys Read book clubs, I went, as so many of my generation do, to Facebook, where I asked for suggestions on what book might be a good choice. I can't remember who it was—if it was you, say so in the comments, please—but some obviously intelligent person suggested Gary Paulsen's classic adventure Hatchet.
Now, Paulsen's been the standard go-to writer of books for adventuresome young boys for decades, and I'm honestly a little ashamed to admit that I'd never read a word of him before this summer. I was immensely impressed. He's got a fine command of language; he can spend long paragraphs describing the sounds of the forest or the beating of a bird's wings, and yet there's a great minimalist vibe to the whole thing, as if he's only saying the absolute bare minimum that needs to be said. Brian, trapped in the Canadian wilderness with almost no survival equipment and no training, becomes a simpler person, less concerned with words and the civilized world; his life becomes both thinner and more textured, in a way, and Paulsen does a great job of conveying that.
The boys liked it okay, I think. I was hoping that they would enjoy the attention to detail and the information about wilderness survival, but ultimately I think it was a little slow-moving for them, and lacked explosions. Which, I believe I've already mentioned, are pretty much required for all "guys' lit" these days.
But I personally loved it, and wish that I'd actually read it at the same age these guys are at now. Maybe it would've made an outdoorsman out of me, as opposed to the perpetual indoorsman I appear to be. (As an online grad student and freelance writer, I have to find excuses to leave the house beyond getting the mail.)