Spartanburg Herald Journal featured an article written by Kirk Neely. Click on the newspaper clipping to read the digital article on GoUpstate.com or read the excerpt below.
Faris weaves tales of the South
By KIRK NEELYfor 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.
Sporting Classics Magazine featured an article in their Nov/Dec 2018 issue titled John Faris: A Notable New Voice in the Art of Storytelling which reviews both my second book, We’ll Do It Tomorrow, and my first book, Ten Was the Deal. Click on the picture to see the article in context or read the excerpt below.
JOHN FARIS: A NOTABLE NEW VOICE IN THE ART OF STORYTELLING.
BOOK REVIEW BY JIM CASADA Senior Editor at Sporting Classics Magazine
Simply put, if you haven’t yet read the two books produced by John P. Faris, Jr., a treat of the first magnitude awaits you. I accorded brief coverage to the books, Ten Was the Deal (2013) and We’ll Do It Tomorrow (2016) in earlier renditions of this column.
Faris is a true sportsman for all seasons and, in his books, you encounter a little bit of everything. Information Faris provides about himself reveals that he and his wife have, over the years, visited all of the earth’s continents and more than 80 countries, yet his stories leave no doubt whatsoever of his keen awareness that his home state of South Carolina is in effect a sporting paradise. His stories range widely—the predictable coverage of deer and turkey hunting; the Christmas BB gun and then, in due time, a worthy successor in the form of a single-shot shotgun familiar to so many of us; waterfowling; small game and various types of fishing.
The background to these ventures in storytelling is also intriguing. Inspiration came from the author’s admiration for annual Christmas “letters” his minister shared with the congregation, and the catalyst for Faris moving from uncertain, possibly faltering first footsteps in putting together something similar from his own life experiences to finished books came about in as moving a setting as one can possibly imagine.
Alone in a room with his father, “who was always my best friend,” Faris read a story to him as he lay on his deathbed. It was an attempt to capture some of the outdoor grandeur they had shared and savored. Faris wasn’t even certain his dying father was aware of him or his oral recounting of special moments from their shared past he had committed to paper, but when the tale was told, the senior Faris gripped his son’s hand with tears rolling down his cheeks. That’s precisely the type of emotion, at times gut-wrenching and at others a zephyr of literary wind to lift one’s spirits and send them soaring, the author brings to his pages.
A subliminal message Faris offers time and again is that it isn’t merely the size of the quarry, the heft of the game bag or a bulging stringer of fish that makes for memorable experiences. Those things are undeniably gratifying, but even more meaningful are the special closeness to family and friends the outdoors can provide, the linkage to the good earth that become palpable through the craftsmanship of a skilled wordsmith, and the elemental enchantment associated with the very acts of fishing and hunting.
Space constraints forbid in-depth coverage of individual stories, but there are a dozen of them in the first book and 15 more in the second volume.
You’ll find pathos and pleasure, mesmerism and magic, not to mention an overriding current of what might simply be described as connectivity to nature’s myriad wonders and the endlessly appealing allure of the sport.
Not only are the tales in these books told in excellent and, at times, exquisite fashion, both volumes have qualities all-too-often missing in self-published works. The quality of materials—paper, binding, dust jacket and the like is first-rate. My aging eyes, long ago abused by endless hours spent in poorly lit libraries and archives in the British Isles, also appreciated the generous type size.
I’ll close with a strong recommendation that you add these books to your collection and an even more strident one that you read them as opposed to allowing them to be dust-laden prisoners on wooden shelves or in glass cages. Read them and you will be entertained.
Eastside Living Magazine featured an article written by John P. Faris, Jr. in their May 2017 issue. Click on the magazine clipping or read the excerpt below.
Written by resident John P. Faris, Jr.
Once my two children were grown with families of their own, choosing Christmas presents for them became very difficult. In 2006, I decided I’d write each an original outdoor story instead of buying something, even though I’d never written anything before. My children were surprised and seemed to genuinely appreciate what I’d written.
Years later, I wrote a story for my dad about our last hunting trip together while he lay critically ill in a hospital bed following a stroke. He could not open his eyes or speak. I waited for a time when we were completely alone and read the story to him. He never moved. I wasn’t even sure he heard me. But as I arose to go, I took his hand. Big tears ran down his cheeks. He had heard every word. Dad died the next day.
It was then I was sure I would continue writing.
In the March 2017 issue of Sporting Classics Magazine, I was surprised to see that Senior Editor and Book Columnist Jim Casada reviewed my recent book. Jim wrote: “We’ll Do It Tomorrow is as southern as a slice of pecan pie. If you read the book’s title story and don’t find yourself dabbing at your eyes or with a catch in your throat, some serious self-examination is in order. The piece is that moving and meaningful. This is the talented author’s second book-length venture into storytelling, with his previous effort, Ten Was The Deal, having carved a comfortable niche in the ranks of contemporary Southern tellers of sporting tales.”
My friend, Kirk Neely, says: “More than just hunting and fishing stories, John’s books are about the joys and sorrows of life. Sportsman or not … you will enjoy We’ll Do It Tomorrow.”
I am very pleased that Spartanburg’s own Nancy Kochenower did the beautiful painting for the book’s cover and each chapter’s hand drawn illustrations.
Need a special Father’s Day gift? You can order a copy at OutdoorStories.com or pick one up at Hub City Books. I donate all proceeds from the sale of my books to The Encouraging Word.
John P. Faris, Jr. is a native of South Carolina. His passion since childhood has been hunting and fishing. He enjoys farming, boat building, woodworking, photography and writing. John’s first three books, a collection of hunting and fishing stories, is on bookshelves now and available to purchase online.