In a debut nonfiction collection of personal stories, a Nova Scotian physician and sport fisherman recalls his days on the river and reflects on the lure of angling.
Atlantic Canada’s river systems have long inspired literary authors. David Adams Richards wrote about the Miramichi in Lines on the Water (1998), for example, and Hugh MacLennan wrote Seven Rivers of Canada (1961). Roy continues this tradition with 26 essays and short stories rife with fishing lore and literary references. Born in Cape Breton in 1923, Roy studied medicine and specialized in cardiology. Through a long professional career, he spent many days, even weeks, on the river, tying flies, netting fish and taking copious notes. Essays born of time spent “out-of-doors,” as Roy says, reveal sensibilities common to writers and fishers, such as the composure to sit for many fruitless hours and the fastidiousness to knot deer hair and record dinner menus. Indeed, Roy offers countless details of his early fishing trips throughout the region: routes traveled, bait used, fish caught, natural history—and, yes, daily meals. These recollections maintain a 1940s and ’50s tone which, for some readers, may seem overly quaint or simply outdated. The phrase “A lot of baloney,” for instance, sits alongside “Micmac Indian,” an erroneous term, now considered disparaging. In one of several dreamlike, fictional pieces, salmon discuss threats to their survival, including dams, aquaculture, acid rain, and “Indians” who are “more stupid than the white man in matters pertaining to our preservation.” That said, Roy writes clearly, at times beautifully, of his awe before the river and his respect for the Atlantic salmon. Among quotations from Henry David Thoreau and Rudyard Kipling, he meditates on the soul, contemplates the mayfly’s brief existence and decries current declines in fish stocks. Readers may sense a turbulent undertow in this calm physician/fisherman. But although Roy doesn’t lack feeling, his more egregious anachronisms may be jarring. For example, in “Gender and Fishing,” Roy acknowledges his “atavistic” unease when “a member of the fairer sex” joins him on the riverbank.
Informative, if somewhat fusty, musings on rivers and fishing which may interest literary sportsmen—and sportswomen.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)