A bold and eloquent work in which New York Times editorial page director Raines (Whiskey Man, My Soul Is Rested--both 1977) looks at his obsession with fly fishing as cause, symptom, and remedy for the woes of middle-aging. While he tries not to ridicule the men's movement, Raines--who grew up in Alabama fishing the Redneck Way--notes that many men are already ``hard-wired to all the raw masculine force [they can] handle.'' There's a need, he says, for an antidote to the anxiety, alienation, and sadness that's been ``a secret silent force among men in America''--but the antidote needn't have ``become an industry with its own speakers' bureau.'' A man who's fished with Presidents as well as with his own two sons, Raines ``measured'' the fish in his life on his 40th birthday when his then-wife presented him with a photo album of the passion that had endured since age seven, when he caught 20 crappies from a bridge near his hometown. Raines admitted that he'd been, at best, a ``middling'' fisherman. Worse, he saw himself as ``a middle-aged man in a gray suit who trudged to the White House press room'' to do what ``felt like stenography,'' rather than as the great novelist he'd set out to be. He also saw ``the black dog on his trail,'' conjured up by the death of his friend and mentor Dick Blalock, who'd showed him fishing as ``a way of living easefully in the world of nature.'' Raines's wonderful descriptions of streams, people, and fish; his perceptive, practical approach to the literature of fishing; and his commentary on manhood and male-bonding, from Hemingway to Robert Bly--all serve to sharpen the intensity and perspective of his journey through divorce, affairs, family problems, sickness, and death. A profound work that will hook readers from the start.