All the Things

A blog by Holly Papa.

Guts – The True Story Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books by Gary Paulsen

by | Jan 30, 2009 | Blog | 7 comments

gutsI loved Hatchet as a kid and when I saw this autobiography I had to read it. I wanted to know what was behind the stories. After reading this the man is lucky to be alive. Born in the 1939, he is not slowing down to say the least as of right now he is currently training for the Iditarod in Alaska.


I saw death coming at me, snorting and thundering. I think I may have thought of phantoms, wood spirits, wild monsters – I most certainly did not think of moose.

This is what Gary Paulsen writes as he describes his first encounter with a moose. In response to reader’s inquiries Paulsen decides to explain what parts of his books were based on real life. Paulsen, a talented writer ensnares the reader with his easy conversation style of writing balancing both fact and narrative description of his life. Growing up with alcoholic parents, forced Paulsen to be resourceful. He really spent a lot of time in the woods hunting for his own food as a kid. 

This creative man with guts shares his knowledge and love of nature through such his personal experiences with themes of courage and survival.  You’ll learn such things as why deer are some of the deadliest animals in the wild and the best way to eat bugs. This book, in addition to being a fun read, can help readers understand connections between authors’ own lives and the books they write.

I highly recommend this book especially for the adventure, outdoor, adrenaline seeking types. I would caution those of you who get a little quesy or don’t like vivid death scenes to either skip those parts or sit this one out. Paulsen literally witnesses death and comes close on more than one occasion himself and has eaten some interesting things and if you have read Hatchet – he eats everything that Brian eats plus some and minus one, but you’ll have to read it to find out. 

Since I live and was raised primarily in an urban setting I have no great outdoor adventures (other than while camping with my family in a Missouri thunderstorm – not fun by the way). I know wildlife is there and actually about 6 months ago while on a walk on the river walkway by our house my daughter and I saw a doe with two babies less than a mile from our home! My daughter was thrilled (we kept our distance thanks to Gary’s advice) and I had no idea there were deer so close to our house.  Currently we have a gopher living in our yard. We have tried a variety of things to get rid of the little buggar, traps, bombs, flooding the tunnels, sending the dog to dig, etc and so far he/she has evaded us. We’ve lost a few plants to the gopher including one of my favorite rose bushes. Argh. . . this spring I am determined to get rid of the gopher. I’ll keep you posted.

So what is your experience with wildlife in your area or do you have any outdoors adventures you would like to share? 

Gary Paulsen’s website and current Iditarod Journal


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