Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet And The Brian Books – Gary Paulsen
Guess what—Gary Paulsen was being kind to Brian. In Guts, Gary tells the real stories behind the Brian books, the stories of the adventures that inspired him to write Brian Robeson's story: working as an emergency volunteer; the death that inspired the pilot's death in Hatchet; plane crashes he has seen and near-misses of his own. He describes how he made his own bows and arrows, and takes readers on his first hunting trips, showing the wonder and solace of nature along with his hilarious mishaps and mistakes. He shares special memories, such as the night he attracted every mosquito in the county, or how he met the moose with a sense of humor, and the moose who made it personal. There's a handy chapter on "Eating Eyeballs and Guts or Starving: The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition." Recipes included.
Review: Gary Paulsen is one of the authors who made me a reader. I hated reading when I was a kid, but I loved the woods. I liked survival stories and learning about nature. Hatchet was one of the few books that I actually enjoyed. After reading Hatchet a few dozen times, I moved on to the rest of Gary Paulsen’s Brian books.
In Guts, Paulsen talks about the real-life events that inspired him to write the Brian series. He has lived an unusual life, mostly in remote places. He writes about his time as a paramedic in rural Colorado (very close to where I currently live). He also tells stories about surviving in the wilderness in Minnesota and Alaska. Gary Paulsen has actually lived through everything that happens in the Brian books. This memoir covers his experiences with heart failure, plane crashes, animal attacks, and hunting mishaps.
Paulsen’s writing style is conversational. I read this book straight through without putting it down because it felt like I was listening to a friend tell stories. I laughed out loud several times. The author has a way of understating deadly problems that makes me laugh. Then I feel terrible about laughing at his near-death experiences. They’re funny, though!
My favorite story is the one where Paulsen and his 14 sled dogs got trapped in a blizzard and needed to be rescued by plane. The dogs were loose inside the plane and lost their minds when it took off and started bouncing around in the storm. During a 20-minute flight, the dogs destroyed the plane’s interior. They bit the pilot and almost caused the plane to crash. Not cool, dogs. The moral of the story: dogs on planes know no chill.
My second-favorite story is the one where Gary wanted to know if it was possible to eat turtle eggs. He tried eating one and threw up. His dog caught the puke and swallowed it before it hit the ground. Again, not cool, dogs.
“We have grown away from knowledge, away from knowing what something is really like, toward knowing only what somebody else says it is like. There seems to be a desire to ignore the truth in favor of drama.” – Guts
If you’re not interested in hunting or wilderness survival, then this book might not be for you, but for me, it was perfect. It’s a quick, funny read that distracted me from the rest of the world. You’d probably get the most out of Guts if you’ve read the Brian books, but it’s not completely necessary. The stories are entertaining on their own.