Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker, by Herrick Kimball
$19.95 from Whizbang Books, P.O. Box 1117, Moravia, N.Y. 13118, phone: 315-497-9618, Internet: www.whizbangbooks.com
Suggested by Barb Smith of Raymond, Maine.
Every year, except when we forget, we include a literary section in the Holiday Gift Guide. Our selection this year is Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker (subtitle: Plucks Turkeys, Geese and Ducks, Too!). As the title suggests, this is a sweeping epic novel of love, lust and betrayal.
No, seriously, it's about plucking chickens. In fact it's dedicated to a Mr. Ernest Hausen of Fort Atkinson, Wis., who, in 1939, ''hand-plucked a chicken in 4.4 seconds,'' a record that still stands today.
This book explains, in extreme detail, how you can build a mechanical chicken plucker at home. This is LOT cheaper than going out and buying a ready-made chicken plucker, which can run you $2,000. (We here at the Gift Guide just buy naked chickens at the supermarket, but we're weird that way.)
In the moving introduction to this book, the author writes that he was once resigned to ''a lifetime of hand-picking'' the feathers off his chickens. But then, one ''epiphanous day,'' he visited a friend who had built his own chicken-plucking equipment, and who demonstrated it using two chickens. Here's what happened next, in the author's own words, which we are not making up:
''Mike picked the denuded birds out and held them, heads dangling, in front of me. I'm sure my mouth was agape. It was one of the most beautiful and amazing things I had ever seen. I knew at that moment that I would have, that I must have, a mechanical tub picker of my own . . . ''
We're sorry, but if you can read those words and not think ''This book has to be made into a major motion picture starring Russell Crowe and Keanu Reeves as the men, and Courtney Love as one of the chickens,'' then you have a heart of stone.
NEXT GIFT: DOGGLES