A nice, somewhat reflective collection of narrative essays about fly-fishing. Chatham is a good/evocative writer and, unless he's a liar, an incredible fisherman. The book is scattered with photos, none of which are very interesting or varied, except that they show you how expletiving big the fish in question are. There's an interesting fly-vs.-spinners thread throughout, sort of a sail-vs.-powerboat thing, which Chatham keeps effortlessly in check. Kind of funny. There's the occasional cheesy excited line, but these are rare. For all his enthusiasm for fishing, the collection never wanders into that gushy tone that so often ruins this sort of writing. Similarly, Chatham obviously knows a ton about fishing, but the essays are neither technical (and thus boring) or condescending/patronizing. Just a bunch of essays by a dude who loves the landscape, and loves fishing in it.

None of the essays really go much further than that; if there's a bigger issue at stake, it's lament at these formerly pristine/well-stocked/etc. rivers becoming dammed, ruined, drained of fish. Chatham's introduction covers this explicitly. Throughout, though, there's none of that doomsday tone. Still, some of the shorter essays could certainly have opened up to something bigger, or at least gone on longer. Sort of like, okay, cool piece, but . . .

If the collection lacks one thing, it's variety. All the essays are about Chatham and his buddies fishing. They're still interesting, because Chatham has seen some things, and the locations he writes about are evocative and vivid, but still. If you've never fished before, this is probably going to bore you. Though, if this book does bore you, you're probably not interested in things you should be interested in. Like nature. So.