STILL LIFE WITH BROOK TROUT

John Gierach, Author . Simon & Schuster $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2994-4

"In some ways," Gierach writes in this breezy, compact volume, "fishing with a good, familiar partner has many of the best attributes of fishing by yourself." For those unschooled in the particular joys and sorrows of fly fishing, Gierach (At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman ) is that good, familiar partner as he smoothly details the finer points of tying flies; the agony of replacing an old, worn-out fishing vest; and the ethereal sounds wind can make. This work's power lies in Gierach's assumption that readers are interested. He doesn't stop and explain; his stories flow unapologetically from the singular viewpoint of the committed angler. Fishing in rainy conditions may "make fishermen seem crazy to the great mass of unimaginative people, but then few fishermen care what they think," he writes. Beyond describing the specifics of landing this or that elusive fish, Gierach's main concern is the drought that has plagued the American West since the end of the last century. He spikes his stories with accounts of ravaged streams, depleted fish stocks and forests devastated by huge fires fueled by bone-dry timber. His well-mapped territory is one of challenge and setback, good friends and comrades in arms, fact and poetry. It's a world that goes beyond the bubbling trout stream and into the stuff of everyday life. Illus. Agent, Harold Ober/Knox Burger. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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