Fire in the Straw: Notes on Inventing a Life

Nick Lyons. Arcade, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-951627-19-5
Lyons (Fishing Stories), publisher of Lyons Press, casts out a sentimental memoir about how he achieved artistic fulfillment over his 80 plus years. In 1937, five-year-old “Nicki” lived happily in the Bronx with his widowed mother, Rose, and her boisterous, Yiddish-speaking family. One day, his mother inexplicably enrolled him at a Westchester County boarding school. Three years later, when she married Arthur Lyons, a “bland, stupidly bossy, unavailable,” insurance agent, Nick moved with them into “a pretty little house with fake-stone siding” in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Lyons eventually earned an economics degree from Wharton and served in the U.S. Army, where he discovered his passion for literature, particularly Hemingway: “I had not known that writing about trout fishing... could be so intimate, so visceral,” he writes. Upon his discharge, he pursued a literature degree at Bard College, where he met Mari (“mysterious, stubborn, independent”), a painter and his future wife. Lyons’s subsequent career included a several decades-long professorship at Hunter College, a number of writing and editing gigs, and establishing his own publishing company that focused on the outdoor sporting lifestyle. Lyons is a thorough narrator, his prose crisp as he recalls his personal and professional accomplishments that he modestly calls “rather ordinary in the details.” Though the truth of that admission points to the limited readership for these reminiscences, which likely will be fondly received by industry colleagues and avid collectors of Lyons’s odes to fishing, but regarded as rather quiet by others. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/12/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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