“At the desk it's all about the luscious sense, sound and possibilities of language. On the water it's all about the fish and the beautiful places they live. The only real difficulties you encounter are in getting from one place to the other.” …
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“At the desk it's all about the luscious sense, sound and possibilities of language. On the water it's all about the fish and the beautiful places they live. The only real difficulties you encounter are in getting from one place to the other.” — John Gierach
Gierach, who lives in the Colorado town of Lyons, with good trout streams nearby, has developed a career many would envy: When he goes fishing, he's doing his job. The above paragraph is contained in the opening chapter, “A Day at the Office,” in his latest — 17th — book, published in April: “All Fishermen are Liars.”
For a reader whose outdoor excursions ran more to hiking, herding kids and identifying birds, butterflies and wildflowers, some of Gierach's highly specialized descriptions of gear and technique seemed to almost be written in a foreign language, but his flowing words are an absolute joy. I can only guess at how much a dedicated fisherman would love comparing experiences as he or she leafs through this smallish volume.
Gierach travels across the U.S. coast to coast and north into Canada, Alaska, Labrador. He may fly into a fishing camp or drive in on white-knuckle roads. Once arrived, he spends hours in waders standing patiently and waiting for a brief encounter with trout, steelhead, salmon or occasionally other varieties of fish — but especially trout.
He then goes home and recalls his adventures in lucid, descriptive prose that borders on poetry at times, with short flashes of humor that have been compared to the great Mark Twain.
Encounters with assorted folks of the same ilk — most gracious and some testy — are recounted with the same spare, precise language as are accounts of days by beautiful streams, lakes and woods — or days spent in icy rain and fog.
He does address the possibility that one may not really want to reveal the whereabouts of a truly splendid fishing spot, citing a quote from novelist Tom McGuane: “Whenever you feel like falling silent, do it.”
The first chapter concludes: “(S)till, even on those rare days when you trudge off to a trout stream not so much because you want to, but because your livelihood depends on it, you have a better day at the office than most.”
“All Fishermen are Liars” is published by Simon and Schuster at $24. It might be a great Father's Day gift in some families.
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