Standing in a River Waving a Stick

John Gierach, Author, Glenn Wolff, Illustrator Simon & Schuster $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-684-82425-3
Everything from bears to the mysterious ways of ornery trout comes under the attention of Gierach in this lighthearted collection of essays, which is less concerned with the craft of fly-fishing than with the gestalt. Gierach (Another Lousy Day in Paradise, etc.) does hold forth on tying flies, watching bugs and other aspects of the fisherman's art, particularly the equipment. Fly-fishing in remote areas calls for packing such necessities as an emergency fire-starting kit, a sweater and a coffeepot. For Gierach, fishing in the backcountry often leads ""to excuses to stage an elaborate coffee break in a stunningly beautiful place miles from the nearest road, which makes the coffeepot as crucial as the fly rod."" He is at his most interesting--and interested--when he turns into a riverbank philosopher. In the end, getting the fly to the fish may be a goal but not necessarily the essence of fishing, notes Gierach, who admits that he prefers to eat wild red meat and fowl--even though fish is brain food ""and I could use the help."" Readers won't find Gierach's favorite streams and ponds (he deliberately doesn't tell) or how to tie a #20 Olive Parachute, but they will get a folksy earful on how fishing is similar to the way a dog follows its master ""with nothing much in mind except to see what's gonna happen next."" (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
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