RIVER MUSIC: A Fly Fisher's Four Seasons

James R. Babb, Author, C. D. Clarke, Illustrator
James R. Babb, Author, C. D. Clarke, Illustrator . Lyons $24.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-58574-279-0
Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
Hardcover - 196 pages - 978-0-7090-7552-3
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-1-59228-712-3
Ebook - 215 pages - 978-1-59921-671-3
Open Ebook - 215 pages - 978-1-322-16410-6
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Babb has successfully carved out a niche, alongside Norman Maclean, as a superior fly-fishing writer, and moreover as a keen observer of human comedy. This sequel to his successful Crosscurrents expands (and organizes by season) essays from Gray's Sporting Journal and positions Babb as fly fishing's tastefully restrained counterpart to Dave Barry. Babb's wit surfaces at every turn: he observes a psychological battle between two fellow fishermen he nicknames Phlegm and Spleen, a "loudmouthed highliner" and a "quivering bundle of silent intensity," respectively; he muses that due to the sport's anal and passive-aggressive nature, it's "small wonder" that "the invasion of Normandy, one of the best-planned and most devious military assaults of all time, was masterminded by a fly fisherman"; and he points out that Vienna sausages, the "cornerstone" of Southern fishing lunches, taste like "an initial burst of garbage-disposal grease followed by a salty metallic aftertaste that leaves your mouth puckered and sour, as though you'd upchucked chunks of green persimmon then fellated a rusty exhaust pipe." Discussing his midlife crises, he never gets maudlin: for example, describing an object of his flirtations, he writes: "modernize Veronica Lake with a big stir of Gwyneth Paltrow and weird things up with Dorothy Parker playing I Love Lucy." Throughout, Babb calmly discerns connections between life and the sport, distinguishing his writing from typically obsessive, self-indulgent sports writing: "having acquired the habit before the onset of sentience, fly fishing is for me more an involuntary act of everyday living, like sleeping or eating or watching reruns of The Simpsons." (July)

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