At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman

John Gierach, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2992-0
These 20 magazine columns--most from Field & Stream--follow Gierach's year of outings in Northern Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, and include some of his best strokes of style since Sex, Death and Flyfishing. Each travelogue plucks the required notes of Gierach's angling country song formula: a conversational, self-deprecating voice; good-humored reporting from the Eden streams of the West, appreciation for his local angling fraternity. Fishing-is-the-antidote-to-real-life is the axis of every Gierach collection, and several of these stories are convincing as well as entertaining. The angling reader already understands perfectly well the real reason Gierach is perched on the back of an ATV with a Labrador retriever riding through heavy May mud to reach remote ranchland ponds. As Gierach gets older, his reach into his angling hat is slower but he pulls out better rabbits:""If you wanted a fish that could sip white wine and discuss Italian poetry, you'd look for a trout. If you need a ditch dug, you'd hire a carp."" The title reference is to a streamside marker dedicated to a deceased conservationist that Gierach seems to acknowledge is the epitaph for anyone who, like himself, spends his life in the thrall of something as gloriously inconsequential as fly-fishing.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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