cover image Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers

Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers

John Gierach. Simon & Schuster, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6858-1

In this charming collection of original essays, Gierach (Fly-Fishing in the High Country), a Redstone Review columnist, reflects on what casting a line, waiting for bites beside a stream, or searching for good fishing spots can reveal about human nature. Pondering the power of place, he reflects on the pleasures of fishing close to home, where “some of the things you know [can] operate beneath the level of full consciousness.” While sharing an amusingly self-deprecating story of almost landing a muskie, Gierach observes that the one that got away is the “stuff of sleeplessly staring at a dark bedroom ceiling” while wondering why one didn’t stay home. Gierach also discusses how anglers measure success and failure, the pleasures of fishing with friends, and the frustrations of encountering those who don’t adhere to accepted fly-fishing etiquette. There are three kinds of people who fish, he proposes: those who read and obey the rules, those who read the rules so as to get away with breaking them, and those who ignore the rules entirely, out of a “pioneer’s sense of entitlement.” Gierach’s inviting, down-to-earth, and humorous work shares a deep love of fly-fishing and the ways that it can be a metaphor for life. Agent: Pamela Malpas, Jennifer Lyons Literary. (June)