Bob Kimber & Ted Nugent:A Comparison

Reviewed by Kenny Brechner

    When two books share as many themes as Ted Nugent’s Kill It and Grill It and Bob Kimber’s Living Wild and Domestic, it would be unnatural not to compare them. The role of hunting in the modern world, its potential to center an individual within the duality of nature in man and man in nature, to examine the means of providing what Nugent refers to as "our spiritual barbecue" and Kimber "our sacred meal," is the centerpiece of these two books.

    The differences between these two avid hunters are fundamental, an intrinsic difference of character which manifests itself in every element of their style and approach. Nugent, a rock star who lives in Michigan, has a presence both flamboyant and egocentric. Kimber, a woodsman, author, and translator from central Maine, is at all times self amused and incisive. In "A note on style" for example, Nugent argues that he, Ted Nugent, has succeeded in reinventing and reinvigorating the English language where prior linguistic innovators such as George Bernard Shaw and Gertrude Stein failed so badly. Unlike Shaw, whose efforts were a "big musty flop," Nugent asserts that in his "book-the hard-drivin’, hard-lovin’, full-throbbin’, high octane,’ deerslayin’, allthings-scarin’, ballistic guitarboy-Nugetizes it (the English language.)" Kimber, on the other hand, contents himself with writing in standard English. Kimber’s prose has the quality of an underground stream whose presence is everywhere evident but nowhere visible. Smooth and companionable, Kimber demands nothing while providing a great deal.

    Nugent’s idea that his disavowal of the letter g at the end of a word, along with his embracement of the suffix age, as in "hornage," "slabbage" and so forth, represents a genuine literary innovation rather than a monotonous, single chord exercise of commonly used slang, highlights his premise that continually broadcasting self importance at a high decibel level transmutes everything it touches into gold. Nugent himself would recognize the fallacy in his premise given a musical, rather than literary context, however. A great deal can be done with three chords in a rock song, one chord can only have one result though.

    The idea that self advertisement is the most effective means of communication is everywhere evident in Kill it and Grill it. We know Nugent is awesome because he’s "The Nuge." We know he’s a great cook because he’s "Chef Nuge." We know he has a tight knit, cohesive family because they are "Tribe Nuge." We know he loves his mom because she is "Ma Nuge." And we know he loves his wife because he tells us, beneath a photo of her aiming a bow that "the mystical flight of her arrow truly turns me on."

    In reading Living Wild and Domestic, the reader becomes aware that Bob Kimber is exceedingly fond of his wife Rita. There is, however, no single passage that can be cited to demonstrate Kimber’s affection, the inference is strong because it is cumulative. The reader also becomes aware that Kimber is a superb preparer of wild game, though one doubts if he refers to himself, even in private moments, as Chef Kimbo. Nor does the presumption that the Kimber family doesn’t refer to itself as Clan Kimbo obstruct the reader’s appreciation of their tight knit and cohesive nature.

    The fundamental purpose, or complex of purposes of an author is best revealed in their intended, or imagined audience. Nugent imagines an audience composed of the already sympathetic, the pre-nugetized that is, and "goofball squawks" whose delusional fantasies are "like kevlar body armor for the brain." The idea that the world is composed of two types of people, people who think that Nugent is awesome, and people who are lame, means that Nugent has no interest in engaging in genuine argumentation.

    Bob Kimber imagines a spectrum of scepticism and sympathy in his audience, and employs therefore all his considerable powers of persuasion to engage the reader. In recognizing the complexities lurking on the edge of his own position Kimber manages to pull his readers within the scope of his argumentation.

    The ungainly aphorisms ("There is no bag limit on happiness....Kill tree-dwelling vermin, remove PJs, take to flame, chow down. Drive safely.") and questionable recipes ("Coca-Cola Stew...Ted’s Favorite Porkfeast...Sweet, n, Sticky Rabbit") found throughout Ted Nugent’s Kill if and Grill it, are not the book’s central problem. The problem is ineffectiveness. Nugent’s determination to imagine that everyone who isn’t a mirror image of himself is lame has led him into writing a lame book. In comparing Kimber and Nugent one does well to reflect that introspection, complexity, and style provide the spice and the heat of argumentation. And that without them a narrative is nothing but a festering, unattended carcass left to rot in the field.