Fishing, particularly fly fishing, writes Browning, ""seems to hold a disproportionate place"" in North American letters In...

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HAUNTED BY WATERS: Fly Fishing in North American Literature

Fishing, particularly fly fishing, writes Browning, ""seems to hold a disproportionate place"" in North American letters In this thoughtful, penetrating, but dissertation-like look at the literature of fly-fishing, the author notes that fishermen who write can be likened to our ancient ancestors, ""who blazoned portrayals of the hunt on the walls of . . . caves."" Browning asserts that ""the distinctiveness"" of American fishing writing flows from the Transcendentalists, in particular from a few paragraphs by Thoreau in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers wherein he views an old man fishing from a riverbank as performing ""a sort of solemn sacrament."" Thoreau and others established another early hallmark of American fishing writing, he suggests, by wistfully writing of a Golden Age in America ""to be preferred over the present age of industry."" But it is in scrutinizing Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and his story ""Big Two-Hearted River"" that Browning finds the most profound portrayals of fishing as an ""activity where life and death meet and stare at each other."" Unfortunately, this is also where the author's dissertation style is most in evidence as he overreaches to investigate the ""story's doubleness,"" as suggested by its title. Interspersed with these scholarly chapters are ""interludes"" about Browning's own fishing experiences.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0821412191

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998