At the grave of the unknown fisherman graphic Fly fishing book reviews 

At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman
John Gierach
Paperback : 195 pp.
Simon & Schuster    $13
ISBN   0-7432-2993-2
At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman

Just when you thought America's favorite trout bum had gone on too many fishing trips and was tardy from his word processor, he comes out with another charming series of personal fishing lore. Gierach stands in a class by himself. Not the sort of writer to bore us with technique (Lord knows, we have enough books to keep us well educated for another half century) Gierach instead gives us a delightful mixture of method and madness. Actually, more madness than method; that is, lots of good humor and fun as he reflects on a single year's worth of fine and not-so-fine fishing.

The book takes us through two winters, with one engaging adventure (and misadventure) after another. We are left with the intimation that focusing on a single year allows Gierach (and us) to not take our few years of fishing on this planet for granted. Years piled upon years get lumped together to the point that what few memories we have of them get congested, confused and eventually forgotten. The lesson: Seize the season.

This book, more so than his past books,  gives us personal glimpses into Gierach's life and into his perspective on the philosophy, sociology and politics of fishing. You never get too much fishing strategy from this trout bum.  This book is for those who simply want to be entertained while educated on appropriate attitudes toward the sport.

Now, Gierach would be the first to tell you not to take him too seriously. There is a time for fun as well. His Huckleberry Finn side permeates his books, punctuated by a slight fictional cast to this style of writing. Reading about fishing can be boring unless you add style, flare, a few tall tales--and a little more meaning to your writing. After all, what is living and fishing but one series of little facts and fiction all delightfully confused. Who wants to sort it all out?

Read as much Gierach as you can. If you don't catch more fish, you'll catch a better attitude towards fishing, and maybe his pleasant and humble sense of humor will rub off on you as well.

--Toney J. Sisk


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