GUIDING ELLIOTT by Robert Lee

GUIDING ELLIOTT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As told by Donnie Phillips, Lee's debut novel about fly-fishing in Montana is bestrewn with glorious malapropisms: ""I have a good vocabulary for a fishing guide, but I know I ain't no Rogue Scholar, so when I come upon a new word I study on it some."" The main new word Donnie studies is piscatorial, as in ""Dear Piscatorial Partners,"" which is how he opens the letters that comprise this epistolary novel and that he sends to Manhattan Chapter #6 of Trout Unlimited. This opening, further, lets him avoid mentioning women (""effeminate females,"" as he would have it) in his discussions of the men-only (as he would have it) art of trout fishing. Piscatorial derives from the Roman Empire, where a local angler, seeing women fishing, remarked, ""Ain't that a piss-cutter!"" Says Donnie: ""The empire collapsed soon after that, and historians have misinterpreted the remark and decided that 'piscator' was a Latin term meaning fishermen."" When New Yorker Elliott, separated from his wife back in the city, arrives to teach English and creative writing, he hires Donnie as a guide to show him some fishing water--which he does, though forever twisting other people's superior abilities, including Elliott's graceful and accurate casting, in his own form of one-upmanship. Meanwhile, Donnie is somehow married to Nancy, who has a degree in psychology and sociology and works for a local home where they help people who are really messed up. When Donnie's boss Wally fires him and hires Elliott to replace him, Elliott's girlfriend Beth, suggests that she, Elliott, Donnie, and Nancy build their own B&B lodge for fishing guests. Before Donnie knows it, a whole passel of fisherwomen from New York have their eye on the lodge-to-be. Good fun and steadily amusing, though it seldom plucks at the heartstrings as does, say, Ring Lardner, the master of authoritative stupidity and lingual description.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 156pp
Publisher: Lyons & Burford