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About John Gierach
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“After five decades, twenty books, and countless columns, [John Gierach] is still a master” (Forbes). Now, in his latest fresh and original collection, Gierach shows us why fly-fishing is the perfect antidote to everything that is wrong with the world.
“Gierach’s deceptively laconic prose masks an accomplished storyteller...His alert and slightly off-kilter observations place him in the general neighborhood of Mark Twain and James Thurber” (Publishers Weekly). In Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers, Gierach looks back to the long-ago day when he bought his first resident fishing license in Colorado, where the fishing season never ends, and just knew he was in the right place. And he succinctly sums up part of the appeal of his sport when he writes that it is “an acquired taste that reintroduces the chaos of uncertainty back into our well-regulated lives.”
Lifelong fisherman though he is, Gierach can write with self-deprecating humor about his own fishing misadventures, confessing that despite all his experience, he is still capable of blowing a strike by a fish “in the usual amateur way.” The “voice of the common angler” (The Wall Street Journal), he offers witty, trenchant observations not just about fly-fishing itself but also about how one’s love of fly-fishing shapes the world that we choose to make for ourselves.
Trout Bum is a fresh, contemporary look at fly fishing, and the way of life that grows out of a passion for it. The people, the places, and the accoutrements that surround the sport make a fishing trip more than a set of tactics and techniques. John Gierach, a serious fisherman with a wry sense of humor, show us just how much more with his fishing stories and a unique look at the fly-fishing lifestyle.
Trout Bum is really about why people fish as much as it is about how they fish, and it is ultimately about enduring values and about living in a harmony with our environment. Few books have had the impact on an entire generation that Trout Bum has had on the fly-fishing world. The wit, warmth, and the easy familiarity that John Gierach brings to us in Trout Bum is as fresh and engaging now was when it was first published twenty-five years ago. There's no telling how many anglers have quit their jobs and headed west after reading the first edition of this classic collection of fly-fishing essays.
Known for his witty, trenchant observations about fly-fishing, Gierach’s “deceptively laconic prose masks an accomplished storyteller…his alert and slightly off-kilter observations place him in the general neighborhood of Mark Twain and James Thurber” (Publishers Weekly). A Fly Rod of Your Own transports readers to streams and rivers from Maine to Montana, and as always, Gierach’s fishing trips become the inspiration for his pointed observations on everything from the psychology of fishing (“Fishing is still an oddly passive-aggressive business that depends on the prey being the aggressor”); why even the most veteran fisherman will muff his cast whenever he’s being filmed or photographed; the inevitable accumulation of more gear than one could ever need (“Nature abhors an empty pocket. So does the tackle industry”); or the qualities shared by the best guides (“the generosity of a teacher, the craftiness of a psychiatrist, and the enthusiasm of a cheerleader with a kind of Vulcan detachment”).
As Gierach likes to say, “fly-fishing is a continuous process that you learn to love for its own sake. Those who fish already get it, and those who don’t couldn’t care less, so don’t waste your breath on someone who doesn’t fish.” A Fly Rod of Your Own is an ode to those who fish that “brings a skeptical, wry voice to the peril and promise of twenty-first-century fishing” (Booklist).
“In the world of fishing there are magic phrases that are guaranteed to summon the demon. Among them are: ‘remote trout lake,’ ‘fish up to 13 pounds,’ ‘the place the guides fish on their days off,’” writes John Gierach in this wonderful collection of thirteen essays inspired by a fishing trip to Rat Lake, a remote body of water in Montana. Once again John Gierach does what he does best—explain the peculiarities of the fishing life in a way that will amuse novices and seasoned fly fishers alike. The View from Rat Lake deftly examines man in nature and nature in man, the pleasures of fishing the high country, and the high and low comedy that occasionally overcomes even the best-planned fishing trip.
Some typically sage observations from The View from Rat Lake:
“One of the things we truly fish for [is] an occasion for self-congratulation.”
“In every catch-and-release fisherman’s past there is an old black frying pan.”
“We . . . believe that a 12-inch trout caught on a dry fly is four inches longer than a 12-inch trout caught on a nymph or streamer.”
“Good fishing and good writing use the same skills,” writes John Gierach, “whether you’re after a trout or a story, you won’t get that far with brute force. You’re better off to watch, wait, and remain calm…letting it all happen, rather than trying to make it happen.” As the wry and perceptive essays in Another Lousy Day in Paradise prove, Gierach knows his writing as well as his fishing.
Paradise, Gierach shows us, is relative; it can be found in the guilty luxury of fishing private waters or when one is soaked to the skin, in a small canoe on a big lake in a storm a hundred miles from anywhere, exhilarated after a day’s fishing. There are also pleasures to be found in unexpected places: solitary fishing trips, fishing for less-appreciated fish like carp, or meeting a guide who at first seems like an inarticulate ax murderer but who proves to be a “Zen master among fishing guides.” The point is to let things unfold as they will—because after all, says Gierach, “Basically, the world is a big, dumb trout, and you’re a fisherman with all the time in the world.” As Gierach fans know, this is a description of paradise.
For John Gierach, “the master of fly-fishing” (Sacramento Bee), fishing is always the answer—even when it’s not clear what the question is. In All Fishermen Are Liars, Gierach travels around North America seeking out quintessential fishing experiences, whether it’s at a busy stream or a secluded lake hidden amid snow-capped mountains. He talks about the art of fly-tying and the quest for the perfect steelhead fly (“The Nuclear Option”), about fishing in the Presidential Pools previously fished by the elder George Bush (“I wondered briefly if I’d done something karmically disastrous and was now fated to spend the rest of my life breathing the exhaust of this elderly Republican”), and the importance of traveling with like-minded companions when caught in a soaking rain (“At this point someone is required to say, ‘You know, there are people who wouldn’t think this is fun’”). And though Gierach loses some fish along the way, he never loses his passion and sense of humor.
Wry, contemplative, and lively—that is to say, pure Gierach—All Fishermen Are Liars is a joy to read—and, as always, the next best thing to fishing itself. “From the early days…to his present cult status, Gierach’s candor and canniness at the water’s edge have been consistent…His grizzled, laconic persona is engaging and the voice of the common angler” (The Wall Street Journal).
Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders collects forty of John Gierach’s finest essays on fishing from six of his books. Like all his writing, these essays are seasoned by a keen sense of observation and a deep knowledge and love of fishing lore, leavened by a wonderfully wry sense of humor. Gierach often begins with an observation that soon leads to something below the surface, which he finds and successfully lands. As Gierach says, writing is a lot like fishing.
This is the first anthology of John Gierach’s work, a collection that is sure to delight both die-hard fans and new readers alike. To enter Gierach’s world is to experience the daily wonder, challenge, and occasional absurdity of the fishing life—from such rituals as the preparation of camp coffee (for best results, serve in a tin cup) to the random, revelatory surprises, such as the flashing beauty of a grayling leaping out of the water. Whether he’s catching fish or musing on the ones that got away, Gierach is always entertaining and enlightening, writing with his own inimitable blend of grace and style, passion and wit.
“Once an angler has become serious about the sport (and ‘serious’ is the word that’s used), he’ll never again have enough tackle or enough time to use it. And his nonangling friends and family may never again entirely recognize him, either.” In other words, he (or she) will have entered Gierach territory. And fishermen who choose to brave the crowds at the big hold, commune with the buddies at the “family pool,” or even wade into questionable waters in the dark of night are sure to recognize themselves in Even Brook Trout Get the Blues.
Whether debating bamboo versus graphite rods, describing the pleasure of fishing in pocket waters or during a spring snow in the mountains, or recounting a trip in pursuit of the “fascinatingly ugly” longnose gar, Gierach understands that fly-fishing is more than a sport. It’s a way of life in which patience is (mostly) rewarded, the rhythms of the natural world are appreciated, and the search for the perfect rod or ideal stream is never ending. It is not a life without risks, for as Gierach warns: “This perspective on things can change you irreparably. If it comes to you early enough in life, it can save you from ever becoming what they call ‘normal.’” Even Brook Trout Get the Blues will convince you that “normal” is greatly overrated.
John Gierach's quest takes us from his quiet home water (an ordinary, run-of-the-mill trout stream where fly-fishing can be a casual affair) to Utah's famous Green River, and to unknown creeks throughout the Western states and Canada. We're introduced to a lively group of fishing buddies, some local "experts" and even an ex-girlfriend, along the way
Contemplative, evocative, and wry, he shares insights on mayflies and men, fishing and sport, life and love, and the meaning (or meaninglessness) of it all.
In Still Life with Brook Trout, John Gierach demonstrates once again that fishing, when done right, is as much a philosophical pursuit as a sport.
Gierach travels to Wyoming and Maine and points in between, searching out new fly-fishing adventures and savoring familiar waters with old friends. Along the way he meditates on the importance of good guides ("Really, the only thing a psychiatrist can do that a good guide can't is write prescriptions"), the challenge of salmon fishing ("Salmon prowl. If they're not here now, they could be here in half an hour. Or tomorrow. Or next month"), and the zen of fishing alone ("I also enjoy where my mind goes when I'm fishing alone, which is usually nowhere in particular and by a predictable route"). On a more serious note, he ponders the damaging effects of disasters both natural and man-made: drought, wildfires, and the politics of dam-building, among others.
Reflecting on a trip to a small creek near his home, Gierach writes, "In my brightest moments, I think slowing down...has opened huge new vistas on my old home water. It's like a friendship that not only lasts, but gets better against the odds." Similarly, Still Life with Brook Trout proves that Gierach, like fly-fishing itself, becomes deeper and richer with time.
With his inimitable combination of wit and wisdom, John Gierach once again celebrates the fly-fishing life in Standing in a River Waving a Stick and notes its benefits as a sport, philosophical pursuit, even therapy: “The solution to any problem—work, love, money, whatever—is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” After all, fly-fishing does teach important life lessons, says Gierach—about solitude, patience, perspective, humor, and the sublime coffee break.
Recounting both memorable fishing spots and memorable fish, Gierach discusses what makes a good fly pattern, the ethics of writing about undiscovered trout waters, the dread of getting skunked, and the camaraderie of fellow fishermen who can end almost any conversation with “Well, it’s sort of like fishing, isn’t it?” Reflecting on a lifetime of lessons learned at the end of a fly rod, Gierach concludes, “The one inscription you don’t want carved on your tombstone is ‘The Poor Son of a Bitch Didn’t Fish Enough.’” Fortunately for Gierach fans, this is not likely to happen.