One of the most gifted and entertaining journalists writing today, Matt Labash can extract comic humanity from even the most wary politicians, con artists, and rogues—while shedding wisdom about the rich corners of our American experience. Fly Fishing with Darth Vader pulls together the best of Labash’s feature writing and includes his masterful profiles of the outrageous characters who populate America’s periphery, his loving and lacerating portraits of New Orleans and Detroit, and his hilarious tirades on the health hazards of Facebook and the virtues of dodgeball. Among other must-read essays, Labash chronicles Al Sharpton’s eating habits, fishes the Snake River with Dick Cheney, and investigates the “great white waste of time” that is our neighbor to the north.
Labash was born with a natural appreciation for the American scoundrel and a sense that life is one big chance for laughter. For those reasons, Fly Fishing with Darth Vader will be cherished and talked about for years.
Journalist Labash takes readers to the fringes in his portraits of people and places outside the mainstream and, very often, beyond our ken. His subjects are outlandish and unforgettable: take Dave Mudcat Saunders, the hunting, cussing, NASCAR-loving political strategist who promises to deliver the rural white vote for the Democrats. Or Kinky Friedman, the Jewish cowboy running for governor of Texas under the campaign slogan Why the Hell Not? His profiles of disgraced former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry, corrupt former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Vice President Dick Cheney stand out for their affecting portrayals of the humanity behind the larger-than-life personas. On occasion, Labash settles for lampoon and ad hominem attacks rather that insightful critique, as in his too-easy rant against Facebook or his mean-spirited report from the floor of an academic conference on adult entertainment. But when he sticks to profiling the antics of the lunatic journalists, political hacks, and ego-loving candidates that he so clearly adores, he gives readers a real glimpse at the strangeness and silliness that suffuse American political life.