cover image The Habit of Rivers

The Habit of Rivers

Ted Leeson. Lyons Press, $22.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-55821-300-5

Of all sports, fishing has the richest literature and, in number of titles, seemingly the most of any hobby save chess. This volume outshines all recent entries. As an English professor at Oregon State University, Leeson is amply qualified to write a literate angling book, but his lambent, fluid prose, graced with wit and warmth, far transcends such concepts as qualification. ``The craft of angling is the catching of fish. But the art of angling is a responsiveness . . . letting one thing lead to another until . . . you realize some small completeness.'' These essays are small, elegant completions opening windows to the rivers of the Pacific Northwest (mostly eastern Oregon's Columbia River Basin). In a flyfisher's dialect, Leeson tells an angler's story with the full-throated voice of a naturalist. Those who wonder what it is they're really after out there in the stream will find the answer here. Leeson's work belongs on the shelf next to that of Annie Dillard, John McPhee, Barry Lopez and others of their stripe (and speckle). (Mar.)