Synopses & Reviews
What happens when a Korean-American preachers kid refuses to get married, travels the world, and quits being vegetarian? She meets her polar opposite on an online dating site while sitting at a café in Paris, France and ends up in Paris, Maine, learning how to hunt. A memoir and a cookbook with recipes that skewer human foibles and celebrates DIY food culture, Deer Hunting in Paris
is an unexpectedly funny exploration of a vanishing way of life in a complex cosmopolitan world. Sneezing madly from hay fever, Lee recovers her roots in rural Maine by running after a headless chicken, learning how to sight in a rifle, shooting skeet, and butchering animals. Along the way, she figures out how to keep her boyfriends conservative Republican family from mistaking” her for a deer and shooting her at the clothesline.
Winner of the 2014 Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Book
In honoring Paula Young Lee's work, the judges said: "Eudora Welty, who believes all good writing must have it, speaks of the sound of a voice. And what a voice here! Resonant with images and descriptions, detailed observation and reporting, it soars from a coot recipe to church suppers. Paula Young Lee saw a lot of the latter because her father, who came to this country from Korea with her mother after the war, served as a Methodist minister in various small town churches in Maine. Growing up there instilled in her a love of hunting, a match for her interest in cooking."
"Paula Young Lee has the best 'Food and Hunting' book of the season: Deer Hunting in Paris."
"Once I starting flipping through its pages I found myself reading it cover to cover...[Lee] writes well and tells a good story."
Marion Nestle, author of Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics, 2013
"Pour yourself a cup of tea, curl up on the couch, and open up Paula Young Lees latest book, Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat. And be prepared to laugh out loud. Often."
Marjorie Moss, contributor to HuntingLife
"[Lee's] unsentimental take on family relationships, rural and city cultures, red and blue Americas, and, ultimately, death, human and animal alike [is] a gratifying relief from conventional thought. Deer hunting in Paris? I'd follow Lee anywhere."
Alison Pearlman, author of Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America, 2013
Paula Young Lees memoir, Deer Hunting in Paris, bursts with wit, recipes, and unexpected juxtapositions. I grew up Korean American in Alabama, but Paula grew up Korean American in Maine, which is even stranger. I did not go on to explore Paris and moose hunting like Paula did, but her memoir, which is unexpectedly moving, makes me wish I had. A truly extraordinary life and a truly unique voice. More than any other book I know, Deer Hunting in Paris explores the tendons and gristle of life.”
Michael Chwe, author of Jane Austen, Game Theorist
From the rugged backwoods of Maine to the streets of Paris, Paula Young Lee takes you on an unexpected journey. Through deep insight, arresting imagery, and deft turns of phrase, she reveals the meat, blood, and bone of our hungers, dark and true.”
Tara Austen Weaver, author of The Butcher and The Vegetarian
Not many narratives have you laughing, wincing, and weeping at the same time. Deer Hunting in Paris is pure prose genius. Smart and smart-alecky, a delight on every page.”
Gary Buslik, author of A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean and Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls
Paula Young Lee is M.F.K. Fisher with a gun, Julia Child prepping roadkill.”
Marcy Gordon, editor, Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana
Deer Hunting in Paris is a story of hunger and faith, and faith in hunger. But theres more to it than that: a frenetic electricity, a stumbling toward an illusion of arrival thats hard to put a finger on. Paula Young Lees memoir is the stuff of sumptuous and bloodthirsty parable, a story at once new and strange, and yet engrained, guiding us with searing wit through the chambers of our lives. In her commentary on contemporary culture, her catalogue of references that shift from ancient to pop in the blink of an eye, this is a memoir that proves and interrogates the wild interconnectedness of things, especially those that may at first seem glaringly dissimilar. Lee moves us from Maine to France and back again, whirls us among Jesus and Kafka, IKEA and The Big Buck Club, love, shotguns, longing, and death. The dying, she tells us, have epiphaniesand enemas. Rarely has such a spectrum of quirky meditations been so funny, and so true. The result is a tale that makes you laugh, scratch your head, rock your heart back from the breaking, and ultimately, exhale, exhilarated, having just learned that the weirdest arenas in our lives are often the most beautiful.”
Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost, Pot Farm, and Barolo
I have a new favorite writerI love this book. Like Spalding Gray before her, Paula Young Lee has written an endearingly neurotic monologue full of cleaver-sharp, side-splitting storytelling. There are books (think Bill Bryson, J. Maarten Troost, Tahir Shah) that contain an ultimate moment that for years I read aloud to friends, but Deer Hunting in Paris is an entire book of such moments. I phoned friends and family and stopped strangers to read aloud some of Paulas moments: her nose nestled between her boyfriends butt cheeks as they train for the wife-carrying competition, her childhood dream that Turkish delight is 100% giblets, trying on a camouflage bikini (while ammo shopping) that turns her into both a wallflower and a butterball, a wedding day pig roast with a guy nicknamed Smeg, short for smegma. What I wasnt expecting in this witty romp was a wisdom and way of looking at life and death that would make this the most personally profound book Ive ever read. My life-long all-consuming terror of death was bizarrely put out of its misery with Lees rational portrait of the inevitable for all of us creatures as she deftly handles flesh for feasting.”
Kirsten Koza, author of Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR
Paula Young Lee takes us on an intriguing whirl through a Paris most of us have never seena Paris of Republicans, rifle-toting New Englanders, and riotous tales of hunting. Your stomach will ache from laughter and hunger at the same time.”
David Farley, author of An Irreverent Curiosity
Book of the Week, 22 Nov. 2013, AnyNewBooks
On Paula Young Lee's writing:
Intelligent without snobbery, poignant without sappiness, and hilarious without end...[it will] never get out of your head.”
Ron Cooper, author of critically acclaimed novels, Humes Fork and Purple Jesus
Lees characters are captivating, her prose crystalline, her storytelling worth your precious time."
Garrison Somers, Editor-in-Chief, The Blotter Magazine
About the Author
is a food writer, architectural historian, and backwoods cook. She is the author of Meat, Modernity, and the Rise of the Slaughterhouse
, Gorgeous Beasts: Animal Bodies in Historical Perspective
, and Game: A Global History
, in press. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Humanities Institute at Arizona State University, and other institutions.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Prologue: What its like growing up a Korean-American preachers kid with food allergies in rural Maine.
Chapter 1. Chase. I am in Paris, France, when I meet John via an internet dating site. I move in with him but refuse to marry him.
Chapter 2. A Liver with Onions. Johns family in Maine feasts on a deer shot by his brother Patrick, who brings a new girlfriend to dinner. The entire bunch is conservative Republican. I am a liberal. It is a problem.
Chapter 3. Bite Me. Johns father shoots squirrels from the kitchen window. I ponder the implications of squirrel meat for the 2008 elections, and discuss Korean food made from acorns.
Chapter 4. Sex Ed Chicks. Baby chickens arrive at the house. The rooster proves to be very loud. John hands me a rifle and tries to teach me how to handle it. I am a very bad shot.
Chapter 5. The O in the No. John sights in a rifle by shooting at political signs. I object to this. He shoots them anyway.
Chapter 6. Coyote Mobile. We chop the head off a sick chicken. The headless chicken keeps running for a very long time. The carcass gets hung up for the coyotes, which ignore it.
Chapter 7. Girls in the Man Cave. I go to Cabelas to buy arrow tips and ammo. I end up buying candy instead.
Chapter 8. Playing Possum. Johns brother Patrick builds a bonfire and accidentally burns off all the hair on his head. A beagle disappears, and a coon hound puppy is given away.
Chapter 9. Hiking the Appalachian Trail. John and I scout for moose sign, otherwise known as looking for moose poop.” We stumble onto a mama grouse and a pair of naked lesbians in the woods.
Chapter 10. When Worlds Collide. John runs into a black bear, and my estranged brother arrives from California to celebrate my dads 80th birthday. Both the bear and my brother survive the encounter.
Chapter 11. Bard the Joint. I cook a grouse, and shoot skeet in the front yard.
Chapter 12. Dont Pee Near the Tree Stand. A tree stand is a portable balcony for deer hunters. Hunters sit and wait for the deer to walk up to them. This method does not seem to work.
Chapter 13. Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. We are Hunting Wabbits! We take the beagles out for a rabbit hunt, and spend hours hunting in the winter woods. We do not get any rabbits, but we work up big appetites.
Chapter 14. Vampires Suck. Patrick shows me how to skin a fresh rabbit. I experiment with rabbit recipes.
Chapter 15. A Coozy Story. It is Christmas, and Patrick proposes to his girlfriend by hiding a ring in a coozy. John and I go for a snowmobile ride and get stuck in deep snow.
Chapter 16. Dont Shoot the Deer in the Ass. John misses a large buck. Frustrated, he buys hunting widgets such as a buck grunter,” scent patches, and doe urine. To my great surprise, the widgets work: a buck walks up to his tree stand, and he shoots it.
Chapter 17. Blood and Guts. The men dress the buck in the woods. It is messy and intense. They show me how to hang and skin a deer.
Chapter 18. Suet for Chickadees. I butcher the deer. Unexpectedly, this experience gives me a different perspective on my mothers death.
Chapter 19. Fish Heaven. John goes fly fishing with his son. I get munched by mosquitos, and think impolite thoughts about life in the woods. Patrick and his girlfriend Christie elope.
Chapter 20. Ham Supper for 227. A whole pig gets roasted to celebrate their wedding. Coyotes steal some of the meat. Johns father finally says something nice to me.
Epilogue. The dog dies.