A chronicle of a life in fishing by an author who seems like good company.

CASTING INTO THE LIGHT

TALES OF A FISHING LIFE

A tackle box full of fishing tips, memories, histories, anecdotes, taxidermy, and even recipes from an angler who found focus and purpose for her life among her fellow fishermen on Martha’s Vineyard.

Though the location suggests a life of leisure among the privileged elite, Messineo endured a hardscrabble upbringing and found herself among the outsider artistic community, working as a waitress and overindulging in drugs and alcohol. Fishing likely saved her life, or at least gave her one, though she doesn’t belabor the redemptive spirit as much as the title suggests. The author also doesn’t wax too poetic, at least once she moves beyond the introduction, where she describes fishing as “the meditative place similar to where gardeners go when they kneel in the dirt and dig their fingers in the soil….Standing in the surf, casting my lure toward the horizon, I feel like I am the woman I’m meant to be….My life becomes meaningful and I feel part of my surroundings.” Comparatively, the rest of the memoir is more nuts-and-bolts description: how and where the author learned to fish, how she went from feeling like an intruder to being accepted as a rare woman in a sport dominated by men, how the ethics and competition of fishing have changed—and how cheaters have occasionally rigged that competition and gotten away with it. Messineo writes about lucky sweaters and about how unlucky bananas are for fishermen. She touches on her marriages and the son she and her husband have adopted, and she treads lightly on the schizophrenia of her fishing mentor, who eventually succumbed to suicide. Whereas many fishing memoirs are often more literary, turning that time with nature into a spiritual pilgrimage and the art of fishing into a metaphor for life, this is more about fishing itself, written for readers who like to fish or think they might like to learn.

A chronicle of a life in fishing by an author who seems like good company.

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4764-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he...

LIVES OTHER THAN MY OWN

The latest from French writer/filmmaker Carrère (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2010, etc.) is an awkward but intermittently touching hybrid of novel and autobiography.

The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he describes powerfully. Carrère and his partner, Hélène, then return to Paris—and do so with a mutual devotion that's been renewed and deepened by all they've witnessed. Back in France, Hélène's sister Juliette, a magistrate and mother of three small daughters, has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that crippled her in adolescence. After her death, Carrère decides to write an oblique tribute and an investigation into the ravages of grief. He focuses first on Juliette's colleague and intimate friend Étienne, himself an amputee and survivor of childhood cancer, and a man in whose talkativeness and strength Carrère sees parallels to himself ("He liked to talk about himself. It's my way, he said, of talking to and about others, and he remarked astutely that it was my way, too”). Étienne is a perceptive, dignified person and a loyal, loving friend, and Carrère's portrait of him—including an unexpectedly fascinating foray into Étienne and Juliette's chief professional accomplishment, which was to tap the new European courts for help in overturning longtime French precedents that advantaged credit-card companies over small borrowers—is impressive. Less successful is Carrère's account of Juliette's widower, Patrice, an unworldly cartoonist whom he admires for his fortitude but seems to consider something of a simpleton. Now and again, especially in the Étienne sections, Carrère's meditations pay off in fresh, pungent insights, and his account of Juliette's last days and of the aftermath (especially for her daughters) is quietly harrowing.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9261-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more