Fishing by Mail: The Outdoor Life of a Father and Son

Vance Bourjaily, Author
Vance Bourjaily, Author Grove Press $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1263-7
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
Hardcover - 978-0-87113-556-8
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This ``epistolary exchange'' of good-humored but bland stories between novelist father and journalist son must have sprung from a need to finance a fishing trip. A novelist of senior Bourjaily's stature cannot help but entertain--and often does, particularly describing exotic, hapless adventures in India--but it seems hardly to matter to the reader that his grown son is the original audience. Even the essential pleasure of a correspondence is negated by the open admission that this exchange was actually commissioned by the publisher, and not a spontaneous record. Perhaps that explains why the writers, if not the publisher, had the good taste not to include any real evaluation of their grown-up relationship. It doesn't explain the near absence of the fishing practicalities that might hook an angler. The idea that correspondence between a living father and son about fishing, with a few side trips for wing shooting thrown in, would sustain an outsider's interest is one that all parties should have viewed with skepticism. This is an unfortunate mutation of an angling tradition represented by classics like John MacDonald's Notes and Letters of Theodore Gordon and others. (Oct.)
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