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Fool's Paradise
John Gierach
Hardbound:   212 pages.
Simon & Schuster   $24.00
ISBN  0-7432-9173-5

Fool's Paradise by John Gierach Some things should never end. Pretty fish in your secret places. PMD patterns that never fail. Baetis hatches in spring. And books by John Gierach.

Fool's Paradise promises what you would expect of Gierach--prophetic and conversational prose that meanders around like a good trout stream.  This time, Gierach's stories go from brook trout to muskies, from small creeks to volcanoes, from graphite to bamboo, from this land to that land. Even though great distances are traverse in his prose, Gierach brings it all home with philosophic tones and friendly home-spun humor.

This is not to say that everything is fine in the woods. Paradise isn't always apparent, we learn from Gierach. The expected hatches don't appear, crowds are burdensome, fish with large teeth are threatening, volcanoes could pop any moment, cabin fever is putting a social damper on expensive vacations. But it is from these reality checks, Gierach reminds us, that good stories come, and it is between sporadic hatches that one finds time to reflect on why one is out in the woods to begin with.

Paradise isn't always a specific place, might be another thought Gierach has on his mind. His winter fishing story suggests that paradise isn't always something you stumble into, but can be something entirely personal that no one else will understand and that is only possible after an entire life of effort and reflection.

What else do we learn from these pages of haiku fishing moments and Frostian tones? The important things in the outdoors (or in life) are not necessarily what everyone else is thinking about, driving towards, paying for or casting over. Read your Gierach to help you discover for yourself what is important on the way to your next fishing event. You might find yourself smiling the whole way through your vacation, instead of worrying about the fishing.

--Toney J. Sisk

Read more book reviews of Gierach's prose:

At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman

Still Life with Brook Trout


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