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THE LONGEST SILENCE by Thomas McGuane

THE LONGEST SILENCE

A Life in Fishing

By Thomas McGuane

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1999
ISBN: 0-679-45485-3
Publisher: Knopf

An outlaw spirit moves through these fish stories. It flashes like the glint of a knife or the back of a trout holding in a pool, and marks these tales from novelist McGuane (Some Horses, p. 699, etc.) as his iconoclastic, unpredictable own. McGuane is a serious angler. He watches and listens to the whole nine yards: from rigging up to the birdsong, the cut of the trees along the horizon line, the fluid dynamics, those heavenly fish. His approach is vivid, focused, and intense, as he plays hard and gets dirty in his “willingness to deepen the experience at nearly any personal cost.” For the payoff is sublime: “I could feel glory all around me,— he says after one of those times when it all came together. He attends to the most minute details, knowing, for instance, that in Ireland, “you would have to be born not only among these lanes to find our aperture of unguarded water but also among its rumors,” and acknowledging when he is tinkering with his fly selection that “the deep voodoo of salmon is something I am unready to disturb.” All the narratives are instantaneous, as if your attention had been momentarily diverted and McGuane were reporting what had just transpired, but not all is skittish esoterica. He allows notes of sentiment when revisiting favorite haunts (“universal irony might just have to eat hot lead for the moment”), and readers will take him at face value when he says, “If the trout are lost, smash the state,” in a classic piece that is included here among stories that range from early more-outrageous-than-thou fishing high jinks to recent fishing in remote venues, the fury of his pursuit now in his head rather than on his sleeve. “Of course, it’s all in my head; that’s the point.” It’s a daring head, too, audacious and unrepentant and wild for the type of experience you could write about.