Synopses & Reviews
If John Gierach is living in a fool's paradise, then it's a paradise that his regular readers will recognize and new fans will delight in discovering. Laced with the inimitable blend of wit and wisdom that have made him fly-fishing's foremost scribe, Fool's Paradise
chronicles the fishing life in all its glory (catching your biggest fish ever) and squalor (being stranded in a tent during a soaking rainstorm). In Gierach's world, both experiences are valuable, and both evoke humor and insight.
Fishermen everywhere will understand Gierach's quest to discover and explore new waters (and then not to divulge the best locations to anyone), the unlikely appeal of winter fly-fishing ("the ice fishing shanty served the dual purpose of group therapy and the neighborhood tavern"), how impossible it is to predict the best fishing ("Everything that happens is entirely familiar, but I don't always see it coming"), or even the absurdity of the entire exercise ("day after day, you're casting a fly that doesn't look like anything to fish that aren't hungry and may not even be there"). Braving trips on small prop planes and down "Oh-My-God" roads alike, Gierach and his fishing buddies pursue bull trout in British Columbia, steelhead in the Rocky Mountains, and pike so fierce that a wise fisherman wears Kevlar gloves for the obligatory trophy photo.
But as with any activity that depends on unspoiled wilderness, change is constant. Gierach sees this happening both in the landscape ("You never get to point at a meadow full of browsing mule deer and say, 'You know, all this was once condos.'") and at lodges that now require guests to sign liability waivers ("[I] had a brief vision of herds of lawyers coursing over the tundra in search of litigation"). Just the same, he is always awed by the experience of nature, or as he puts it: "You're on a lovely, remote wilderness river in the Alaskan backcountry. There are people who would make this trip and not even bring a fishing rod."
Musing on the enduring appeal of fishing, Gierach theorizes, "We're so used to the fake and the packaged that encountering something real can amount to a borderline religious experience." Equal parts fishing lore, philosophy, and great fish stories, Fool's Paradise may not be a perfect substitute for actually being out on the water, but it's surely the next best thing.
"This addition to Gierach's long list of fishing books is perhaps not of trophy quality, but it's definitely a keeper. Gierach gets back to the basics of fishing in a collection of personal essays in which he contends that fishing is as much about being outdoors with a few friends who share the same passion as it is about catching fish. Of course, he still thrills at the fish's strike and he lands his fair share of them, but he spends as much time describing other aspects of the sport: getting there, what to do in foul weather, camping etiquette and predicting hatches. He even spends some time ruminating on hunting and the business of rod making. With the simple grace and native wisdom he is known for, Gierach always gets back around to fishing and pays special tribute to the fish themselves, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of North American fish, their feeding habits and their exquisite colorings. Occasionally, he comments on environmental issues such as the effects of logging and housing developments on local streams, but he seems resigned to such encroachments, claiming that he can live with change as long as the fish are biting; such, he confesses, is his 'fool's paradise.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Everyone's favorite fishing writer is back with more fly-fishing pleasures, in this lyrical, surprising book of observations on fishing, nature, travel, and life. Illustrated.
About the Author
John Gierach is the author of several previous books, including At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman, Standing in a River Waving a Stick, and Dances with Trout. His work has appeared in Gray's Sporting Journal, FieldandStream, where he is a contributing writer, and Fly RodandReel, where he is a columnist. He also writes columns for the Longmont (CO) Daily Times-Call and the monthly Redstone Review. He lives in Lyons, Colorado.