Witty, shrewd, and always a joy to read, John Gierach, “America’s best fishing writer” (Houston Chronicle) and favorite streamside philosopher, has earned the following of “legions of readers who may not even fish but are drawn to his musings on community, culture, the natural world, and the seasons of life” (Kirkus Reviews).
“After five decades, twenty books, and countless columns, [John Gierach] is still a master” (Forbes). Now, in his latest original collection, Gierach shows us why fly-fishing is the perfect antidote to everything that is wrong with the world.
“Gierach’s deceptively laconic prose masks an accomplished storyteller…His alert and slightly off-kilter observations place him in the general neighborhood of Mark Twain and James Thurber” (Publishers Weekly). In Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers, Gierach looks back to the long-ago day when he bought his first resident fishing license in Colorado, where the fishing season never ends, and just knew he was in the right place. And he succinctly sums up part of the appeal of his sport when he writes that it is “an acquired taste that reintroduces the chaos of uncertainty back into our well-regulated lives.”
Lifelong fisherman though he is, Gierach can write with self-deprecating humor about his own fishing misadventures, confessing that despite all his experience, he is still capable of blowing a strike by a fish “in the usual amateur way.” “Arguably the best fishing writer working” (The Wall Street Journal), Gierach offers witty, trenchant observations not just about fly-fishing itself but also about how one’s love of fly-fishing shapes the world that we choose to make for ourselves.
In this charming collection of original essays, Gierach (Fly-Fishing in the High Country), a Redstone Review columnist, reflects on what casting a line, waiting for bites beside a stream, or searching for good fishing spots can reveal about human nature. Pondering the power of place, he reflects on the pleasures of fishing close to home, where "some of the things you know operate beneath the level of full consciousness." While sharing an amusingly self-deprecating story of almost landing a muskie, Gierach observes that the one that got away is the "stuff of sleeplessly staring at a dark bedroom ceiling" while wondering why one didn't stay home. Gierach also discusses how anglers measure success and failure, the pleasures of fishing with friends, and the frustrations of encountering those who don't adhere to accepted fly-fishing etiquette. There are three kinds of people who fish, he proposes: those who read and obey the rules, those who read the rules so as to get away with breaking them, and those who ignore the rules entirely, out of a "pioneer's sense of entitlement." Gierach's inviting, down-to-earth, and humorous work shares a deep love of fly-fishing and the ways that it can be a metaphor for life.