cover image In Search of Monster Fish: Angling for a Sustainable Planet

In Search of Monster Fish: Angling for a Sustainable Planet

Mark Spitzer. Univ. of Nebraska, $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4962-1188-0

This exuberant chronicle from Spitzer (Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West), a University of Central Arkansas associate writing professor and avid fisherman, finds him following his interest in exotic fish in the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. The story begins as he visits the Amazon for the first time and goes in pursuit of “snakeheads” and piranha. The adventures roll on from there, with accompanying history lessons (Teddy Roosevelt helped popularize the, perhaps undeserved, fearsome reputation of piranha, which he called “the most ferocious fish in the world”) as Spitzer travels to Catalonia in a quest for “ten-foot-long monster catfish” (the wels catfish), and chases barracuda in the Dominican Republic and monster carp in France. A blossoming relationship with Spitzer’s travel companion, poet Lea—to whom he becomes engaged—provides a pleasant subplot. Spitzer also provides philosophical musings on threats facing the ecosystem and on humankind’s challenge of living alongside other animals “conflict-free.” It’s the juxtaposition of Spitzer’s thoughtful and adventurous sides that sets his book apart, making for a powerful mixture of entertaining wildlife jaunt and moving environmental advocacy. (June)