By KIRK NEELY for the Herald-Journal
October 20, 2013
Late one afternoon last week, I talked by cell phone to my friend John Faris. John was out in the country sitting on the front porch of a log cabin he had restored several years ago. We talked about his new book, “Ten Was the Deal: Southern Hunting and Fishing Stories.” John, who appreciates a good tale as much as I do, is truly a Southern storyteller.
One night six years ago John and I sat in a boat on a farm pond in Laurens County way past dark. Under a full moon in May we caught bream on fly rods and swapped stories.
Storytelling is a treasured part of John’s heritage and mine.
A storyteller takes delight when others want to listen. An audience of a few or a large group that enjoy a tale is all the encouragement needed. When one storyteller encounters another, their joy is multiplied. That has been my experience with my good friend John.
John is an outdoorsman as well as a Southern storyteller. He was reared in Laurens, in the 1950s and ’60s. He cherishes family and friends and enjoys adventures as a sportsman. Now John has written a book. “Ten Was the Deal: Southern Hunting and Fishing Stories” is a collection of 10 of his stories. More than a book of adventures about hunting and fishing, this volume is about coming of age in the South. It has all of the enchantment of yarns spun while sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck; all of the lore of tales told around a campfire.
Set in woodlands, along Piedmont streams, in Lowcountry fields, or along the coast of the Carolinas, these stories reveal a boy’s journey to manhood: turkey hunting with a grandfather, duck hunting with a dad, and his first kiss with a fishing buddy.
Some of John’s best stories emerge while angling for bass in a Midlands farm pond or perched in a duck blind in Pamlico Sound. John writes about shooting wood ducks and a U.S. Army helicopter on the same day. He tells us how battleships moving down the Atlantic coast and fishing for spot tail bass make for the best day ever.
In these pages we learn the secret recipe for the best dang lard in Laurens County. We discover how duck hunting can lead to a good grade in a high school French class. We hear the story behind the sage advice that big possums walk late.
“Ten Was the Deal” should be a fixture in every hunting and fishing lodge across America. It should be by the bedside of every sportsman. Packed with Southern charm and down-home humor, this book is one you will return to again and again.
I have read John’s book from cover to cover. These stories will often make you laugh out loud. Some of these stories will bring a tear to your eye. I intend to give several copies as Christmas presents. Sportsman or not, if you enjoy a good story, you will love “Ten Was the Deal: Southern Hunting and Fishing Stories.” I highly recommend it to you.
All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to The Encouraging Word.