Friday, January 15, 2010

Discovering a gun-friendly writer is an unexpected pleasure

I'm way too stubborn to change easily when it comes to my reading-for-pleasure habits. I've got a few authors I stick with, Robert B. Parker, W.E.B. Griffin, Bernard Cornwell, Stuart Woods and a small handful of others.

So I am absolutely delighted to add another to that small list, Stephen Hunter. I just finished his latest novel, I, Sniper, about the adventures of a former Vietnam War Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger. Now I'll go back and read Hunter's earlier novels and nonfiction works with pleasure.

And this morning in an email announcing the latest issue of American Rifleman, lo and behold there's an article about my newly found author with a "pigs fly" note: he's a retired journalist from The Washington Post! Lordy, I didn't think anybody who ever worked there knew which end of the gun the bullets came out of.

Mark Keefe, editor-in-chief of American Rifleman, had the same reaction when he first stumbled across Hunter's writing.

The world didn’t end, and there was no immediate evidence of porcine aviation. But my morning’s coffee spewed on the pages of Jan. 26, 2006, Washington Post was enough to demonstrate that the world was somehow out of balance. Appearing in that liberal, anti-gun journalistic bastion was one of the finest articles on firearms I’d ever read. When the U.S. Repeating Arms Co. factory closed, a film critic for the Washington Post wrote a heartfelt piece, “Out With A Bang,” for the paper about the legacy of Winchester—in particular the Model 94. In my opinion, it was the finest tribute written on that legendary firearm.

It should have come as no surprise, though, as that writer was Stephen Hunter—a veteran journalist and film critic with The Baltimore Sun and then The Washington Post who earned a Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1998 and a Pulitzer Prize For Criticism in 2003. Hunter is also a New York Times bestselling novelist and one of the finest writers in America. Best of all for shooters his novels are well-known for presenting firearms in a technically correct fashion and giving them prominence in his plotlines. He has written 14 novels and introduced the character of Bob Lee Swagger in “Point of Impact” (1993). That novel was adapted by Hollywood into the feature film “Shooter,” starring Mark Wahlberg, in 2007. Hunter is also the author of three non-fiction works, and, in my opinion, “American Gunfight: The Plot To Kill Harry Truman And The Shoot-Out That Stopped It” has one of the finest descriptions of a an actual gunfight ever written.
I've already checked out one of the early Bob Lee Swagger novels and plan to read all I can find.

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