Broadsides from the fishing stream, with the appealing qualities of both an informal chat and a polished etude, from Lyons (A Flyfisher’s World, 1996, etc.).
Many of the 20 chapters here are vintage Lyons: jigging for striped bass under the Statue of Liberty; messing about in boats, “happily alternating left and right strokes to my own rhythm”; reveling in the mystery of headwaters; and the pleasures of the best fishing writing. There is a great story about the curmudgeon flyfisher Darrell Martin, who flew to Croatia during the civil war there to fish what he figured would be deserted waters. He had the river to himself until a soldier appeared and aimed a machine gun at him. Martin defused the situation by assuring the soldier he was fishing a dry fly. These stories speak of Lyons’s love of the preposterous and of living deliberately, savoring the process, even as his four children and five jobs keep him in a swirl. As in his last collection, there is an awareness here that lifetimes come to a close, that friends are lost to death and argument and distance and entropy. Perhaps most intriguing are two extended chapters in which Lyons details the course of his life, one of candent energy—his humor in the face of financial insecurity, his own impressive list of published work and the work of others he has published from his small press—and gives a quietly devout and engaging portrait of his wife, a character as artful and unconventional as himself (her drawings illustrate the book). Lyons suggests that this may be his last collection of fishing pieces.
The thought of it is outrageous—the world needs more, not less, of so generous a soul.