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Living out the Flyfisher's Fantasy

by Neil Patterson

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 1-55821-425-9
Publisher: Lyons Press

 This sluggish memoir devoutly details the mechanics of fly- fishing, but much else in the narrative remains bewilderingly vague. Only in the last chapter does Patterson reveal that it's been 20 years since he left his London ad agency job to go fishing. He moved into an attic room at the Big House, owned by the mysterious Lady McFarlane, near The Hollow, a flyfishing ``beat'' on a stream that flows into the Thames. Although he never provides a clear, specific name for the stream, almost every other location is given a capitalized nickname: the Back of Beyond, the Mad House, the Doctor's Cottage, Snowdrop Land. People suffer a similar fate: His ``very best fishing companion'' is dubbed Roll Cast because of his adeptness; a man in a horizontally striped shirt becomes Picasso; a retired professor of ancient history is the Greek Bust. There's also the Steel Guitar and the River God. (His wife goes unnamed; perhaps she's the Big Mum referred to in the dedication.) The Boss, a talkative man who ``had lived in The Hollow for ever,'' is a ``riverkeeper'' who oversees a 32-mile stretch of the stream. Patterson rented the attic room for five years before buying an old stable and converting it into a fishing lodge. There are some mildly interesting bits, such as the local legend about the ghost of the trench-coat-garbed riverkeeper who died in a shooting accident and the strange saga of the old door Patterson found and installed at Wild Wood Lodge. Aficionados may appreciate his expertise and the tying of flies: ``For the tail I use a tuft of yellow polypropylene yarn. It's got neutral density. . . .'' Too tedious and irritating for even the most avid of anglers. (more than 300 line drawings)