Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

THE UNREASONABLE VIRTUE OF FLY FISHING

The prolific author returns to an old love: angling for trout.

“Any day fishing on a wintry river is a great day,” writes Kurlansky, refuting Tolstoy’s grumpy assertion that angling is “a stupid occupation.” His river of choice is the appropriately named Salmon, in central Idaho, where the water flows so swiftly that Lewis and Clark named it the “River of No Return.” It’s not open in winter, notes the author, but there are other wintry rivers where one can test “the only two rules of fly fishing that cannot be broken: you cannot fall in and you must keep your fly in the water as much as possible. Everything else depends on circumstance.” This being a book by Kurlansky, who never met a fact he didn’t like, the narrative turns from his experiences as a fisherman to a more universal history. First come the fish themselves, the salmonids, which people have been harvesting for millennia. Only one of those species is a true trout, namely Salmo trutta, the brown trout, with every other kind of trout so called only because they resemble it. The author then moves on to the “acclimatization” projects of the French and the British, “an imperialist concept in an age of Empire,” whereby British anglers felt it was only proper that the brown trout follow the course of conquest, which explains why it can now be found in places such as New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa, “to assure that anywhere a British colonist went, there would be good game for a fly rod.” As for rods and flies, Kurlansky geeks out, reciting names that are known to this day: Charles Orvis, for one, whose contributions to the tackle box are legion; and Clarence Birdseye, the frozen-food magnate whose automatically retracting reel when a fish struck was a dismal failure since “hauling out the fish is part of fishing.”

Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-307-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

UNGUARDED

The Chicago Bulls stalwart tells all—and then some.

Hall of Famer Pippen opens with a long complaint: Yes, he’s a legend, but he got short shrift in the ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Bulls, The Last Dance. Given that Jordan emerges as someone not quite friend enough to qualify as a frenemy, even though teammates for many years, the maltreatment is understandable. This book, Pippen allows, is his retort to a man who “was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.” Coming from a hardscrabble little town in Arkansas and playing for a small college, Pippen enjoyed an unlikely rise to NBA stardom. He played alongside and against some of the greats, of whom he writes appreciatively (even Jordan). Readers will gain insight into the lives of characters such as Dennis Rodman, who “possessed an unbelievable basketball IQ,” and into the behind-the-scenes work that led to the Bulls dynasty, which ended only because, Pippen charges, the team’s management was so inept. Looking back on his early years, Pippen advocates paying college athletes. “Don’t give me any of that holier-than-thou student-athlete nonsense,” he writes. “These young men—and women—are athletes first, not students, and make up the labor that generates fortunes for their schools. They are, for lack of a better term, slaves.” The author also writes evenhandedly of the world outside basketball: “No matter how many championships I have won, and millions I have earned, I never forget the color of my skin and that some people in this world hate me just because of that.” Overall, the memoir is closely observed and uncommonly modest, given Pippen’s many successes, and it moves as swiftly as a playoff game.

Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982165-19-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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