Amid his mother's dying from brain cancer, the loss of his job, and a doctor's diagnosis that his case of the ``meat bucket blues'' was ``treatable'' depression, Middleton (On the Spine of Time, 1991, etc.) finds renewal in fishing the wild waters of cold mountain streams. Fired in June 1990 from a sportswriting job with the Southern Progress Corporation (he replays over and over his firing by his ``friend the CEO,'' whom he'd just given a fly-fishing lesson), Middleton heads to Denver, where he spends two years working on ``county garbage truck No. 2'' with a former professor of medieval history who was fired for stealing a turkey from a barbecue spit. The author attends weekly therapy sessions with one Lilly Mutzpah, who tells him that his depression is ``inherited, genetic, a kind of sadness passed along from generation to generation.'' In Denver, he also befriends ``Swami Bill,'' who wears an apple-green monk's robe and sports a stuffed parrot on his shoulder. The swami and his ``main squeeze,'' Kiwi LaReaux, run the Holistic Motor Court, Ashram, and Coin Laundry. Middleton fishes the South Platte, then heads to the nearby Sawatch mountains, which, Kiwi says, exude ``cosmic amounts of invisible pure crystal healing energy. But you gotta breathe deeply.'' She and the other zanies Middleton meets prepare him--as well as the reader--for the painful, graphically depicted death of Middleton's mother. Her eyes--turned bright blue from cancer treatments--as well as the clouded eyes of a blind trout provide obvious symbols for the author's new insights into himself. Fly fishing meets the New Age in this uneven work that veers from the sublimely ridiculous to the heart-rendingly profound.