The coming-of-age memoir of an avid angler, weighted with plenty of fishing detail and lore and tied with a filament of retrospective reverie.
British novelist Jennings trolls for meaning in the ineffable mystique of fishing. In the canals of London or hidden ponds and streams of the countryside, this passionate philosopher of the fisherman’s arts sends his line and engages his ratchet for pike, perch, trout, carp and any number of other fish. He seems to recall every line and fly in his kit, every cast and catch and every one that got away. He remembers those “tiny red worms downstream beneath a toothpick float cocked by a single dust-shot,” and a “plain black wet fly with soft hen-hackles, something that would look like a drowning insect against the fading light.” Jennings also analyses a great 1938 debate at the renowned Flyfishers Club. In addition to the general rod-and-reel concerns and the pervasive theology of ichthyology, the author offers warm memories of his childhood days building model airplanes, of prep school, of his father and of his first mentor in the Izaak Walton fraternity. The stories of his adventures are graceful and filled with verdant description; Jennings finds something numinous in nature and mystical in the waters in which he stood for hours. Though well executed, his is essentially an elegiac work of a special genre, designed to hook fellow enthusiasts. Readers who simply don’t get it are not likely to bite.
A fishing book that will appeal to initiates in the piscatorial arts (especially as practiced in the British Isles), but may be a bit tedious to others.