Avid fisherman and an evocative writer Prosek (Joe and Me, 1997) effectively combines the memoir and travelogue forms.
The author decided to fish along the 41st parallel, a route that would take him through some of the world’s historic cities, including Lisbon, Madrid, Naples, and Tashkent—quite a change from his hometown of Easton, Connecticut. Angling certainly plays a part here, but readers expecting a Trout and Stream–like narrative focused on the thrills of landing the perfect fish may be surprised. The sport is only a backdrop for Prosek’s ruminations on relationships and places. His travels involve him with all manner of people and places; his descriptions are by turns sweet and sad. Fishing recedes into the background as he tells of his romance with Yannid, a French medical student he encounters in the USA during the early days of his trip. James and Yannid meet again in Rouen, near Paris, and he spends his days with her as he fishes the cold trout streams that eventually flow into the sea. Other places he visits include Gulyurt and Ararat in southeastern Turkey; Hokkaido, Japan; and the Rio Linares in Spain. He recounts his explorations in passages notable for stunning slices of imagery that linger in the mind; it’s not hard to close your eyes and see these faraway places in all their Old World beauty. Prosek’s tales of personal encounters on his travels are no less enthralling. A woman named Ida weeps in his arms while bitterly complaining of husband Johannes’s inattention, and white-bearded Finnish scientist Markuu is drunk much of the time when the author encounters him on the Kamchatka peninsula.
Resonant and lyrical.