Christmas day is speeding toward us like a truck on an icy highway in the dark of night, and in the panicked search for a gift for Uncle Owun we are a deer caught in the headlights.
We all have an OWUN — Old Weird Uncle Ned. A codger, a curmudgeon, a crusty character, a coot. But he’s part of the family and comes out of seclusion every Christmas to join the family around the dinner table, drink too much rum laced eggnog, sing carols in an off-key baritone, and complain about the government. Most problematic, he brings presents for everyone, at least for all the children. So you have an inescapable social obligation to give a present to him.
The looming question this year — and every year — is WHAT that present will be. Uncle Owun does not need anything at this point of his life, and he detests knick-knack gifts. Since he loves the outdoors and is a hunter and fisherman, he especially dislikes those cheesy plastic hunter-with-rifle Christmas tree ornaments various family members have been giving him for twenty years.
You could give him his eleventh pocket knife or his seventeenth pair of red wool socks and watch him roll his eyes in gratitude. But I take the liberty of suggesting a better choice:
A book or books written by a kindred spirit codger, curmudgeon, crusty character, and crazy old coot.
Assuming your Uncle Owun is a reader (and what else does he have to occupy his time these days?), he will appreciate your selection of literature that endorses — nigh adulates — the Coot Life and all the grumpy, self-indulgent nostalgia the Coot Life engenders. Books that document the many ways in which the world used to be a better place and how it is now going to hell in a handbasket. Or at least in a rusty pickup truck.
To that end, here is my totally objective and unprejudiced recommendations for Owun gift books.
The Old Coot series, four anthologies of essays, short stories, and poetry:
Crazy Old Coot – A Curmudgeon’s Stories about Bird Hunting, Bird Dogs, and Life in the North Country
Old Coots Never Forget – More of the Curmudgeon’s Stories about Hunting and Life in the North Country
Coot Stews – A Curmudgeon’s Observations and Grumblings about the Situation in the North Country
A Limit of Coot – A Curmudgeon’s Final Observations about Life in the North Country
North Country books. I also recommend two other anthologies of essays, short stories and poems for the the less Cootish Owuns of your family.
North Country Tales
A View from the North Country
If your Owun has cronies that have shared his hunting and fishing shenanigans over the years, and if he enjoys a good murder mystery, give him this novel:
Hunting Birds – The Lives and Legends of the Pine County Rod, Gun, Dog and Social Club
Or he may have a lifelong secret yearning to go on an African hunting safari, if only he could be transported back in time 100 years. In that case, give him this historical novel:
Ivory and Gold – A Safari into the Sand Hills and across the Athi Plain
By this point of the Christmas season you yourself may feel that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, so I recommend you read about the dystopian future portrayed in this novel:
The Executioner’s Face
Click on the title of the book listed above that most interests you and the link will take you to the website where it is available for purchase. You can also (and I recommend this) visit your local independent book store and ask them to order any or all of these books for you.
Uncle Owun will be pleased.