RIVERS OF THE HEART by Steve Raymond


A Fly-Fishing Memoir
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Dry, intelligent recollections of a fly-fishing life, from Raymond (Steelhead Country, not reviewed, etc.). Raymond has cobbled together 16 essays, grouped under four categories: fishing acquaintances, venues (the Miramichi, Christmas Island, the River Dee, and others), items (flies, cane rods, and an odd-man-out piece on reviewing fishing books), and a mostly humorous miscellany. For Raymond, who has been editing and writing fishing material almost as long as he has been fishing (though he makes his living as a newspaperman), this is not a greatest hits collection--there are winners and losers in each section. Rather, the essays are bound together by their honesty and practicality and in their desire to convey the boundless, multihued fascinations of a day astream, even when it features kidney stone torment, rattlesnakes, poison ivy, and dog feces all in an afternoon. As with any fishing book that isn’t afraid to float a position, readers will find much to quibble with: which writers on fly fishing are worth reading (he suspiciously neglects Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, Bill Barich, and Datus Proper, perhaps because Raymond is a bit prim), the claim that class status isn’t a consideration when choosing a fishing buddy, or the inconceivable statement that he liked the movie A River Runs Through It better than Norman Maclean’s book. There are times when his prose comes empurpled——each wave driven by the pulsing energy of the world’s great hidden heart——but not enough to be mortifying. There are other times when the writing feels like a plug for a lodge: “The 12 guest rooms had been outfitted with air-conditioning units and new queen-sized beds.” But for the most part, these are good fishing stories: glorious locales, smartly observed; a wealth of arcana and history and self-deprecating humor. And it doesn’t hurt that he can turn a decent phrase.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1998
ISBN: 1-55821-700-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Lyons Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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