Synopses & Reviews
Since its publication by Sierra Club Books more than two decades ago, The River Why
has become a classic, standing with Norman Macleans A River Runs Through It
as our eras most widely read fiction about fly-fishing. This captivating and exuberant tale is told by Gus Orviston, an irreverent young fly fisherman and one of the most appealing heroes in contemporary American fiction.
Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus decides to strike out on his own, taking refuge in a remote riverbank cabin to pursue his own fly-fishing passion with unrelenting zeal. But instead of finding fishing bliss, Gus becomes increasingly troubled by the degradation of the natural world around him and by the spiritual barrenness of his own life. His desolation drives him on a reluctant quest for self-discovery and meaningultimately fruitful beyond his wildest dreams.
Stylistically adept and ambitious in scope, The River Why is a touching and powerful novel by an important voice in American fiction.
In a new Afterword written for this twentieth-anniversary edition, David James Duncan reflects on the genesis of his book and on the surprising link between fishing and wisdom.
"A veritable epic....Moving, rhapsodic in its intensity." Publishers Weekly
"In the company of Catch-22 and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." The Houston Post
Not in recent memory has there been such a unique and vibrant fictional character a character who could make us laugh so easily, feel so deeply, who speaks with such startling truth about the way we live as Gus Orviston, the irreverent young flyfisherman in The River Why
Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus embarks on an extraordinary voyage of self-discovery along his beloved Oregon rivers. What he unexpectedly finds is man's wanton destruction of nature and a burning desire to commit himself to its preservation.
Here then is the funny, sensitive, very special story of one man's search: for meaning, for love, and for a sane way to live...a tale that gives a contemporary voice to the concerns and hopes of all living things on this beautiful, watery planet Earth.
About the Author
David James Duncan is the author of the novel The Brothers K
; River Teeth
, a joint memoir and collection of stories; and an essay collection, My Story as Told By Water
. The River Why
ranks thirty-fifth on the San Francisco Chronicle
list of The 20th Century's 100 Best Books of the American West. The Brothers K
is an American Library Association Best Books Award-winner and a New York Times
Notable Book. Both novels won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award.
Duncan has read and lectured all over the United States on wilderness, the writing life, the nonmonastic contemplative life, the fly fishing life, and nonreligious literature of faith. His work has appeared in Harper's, Outside, Orion, The Sun, Sierra, Big Sky Journal, Northern Lights, Gray's Sporting Journal, and many other publications. He lives with his family on a Montana trout stream.