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Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska
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Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  93 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
While father and son fishing trips can be the stuff of American legend, they can also turn out to be the stuff of anger, love and self-discovery. In his memoir of a fishing trip through the Alaskan wilderness, Lou Ureneck brings to life the struggle to reclaim the trust of his teenage son, Adam, following his divorce. Along the way, nature transforms from friend into foe, ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2007)
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What an odd book to read. It's especially odd because the author lived in my tiny home town as I grew up; I used to babysit his children. So it's particularly strange to read a painful personal account of his divorce and attempt to maintain a relationship with his son after it. The framework of the story is a fishing trip in Alaska with his son after the divorce became final, but the book ranges back across the author's life to explore his feelings about fatherhood and marriage, and how his pare ...more
Aug 22, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author invites you to come along on a rafting / fly fishing trip down Alaska's Kanektok River. There's excitement in the air in the opening chapter as the author and his teenage son hop planes from Philly to Anchorage then to Dillingham and finally dropped by bush-plane into the Alaskan wilderness - ON THEIR OWN. To dial up the adventure meter here, the East coast duo decides to cover the 100 plus mile float by themselves. Add to that a shoe-string budget for equipment and a first time ever ...more
Lance Gideon
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Dec 30, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I half enjoyed and was half irritated with this book. I found myself very engaged when Lou was writing about the trip he was taking with his son; ten days of fishing without a guide down 50 miles of a wild Alaskan river. When he would speak in the moment about their trip, their struggles to reconnect, danger they encountered, even the beauty of fishing in Alaska I found myself very interested. I understood the need to incorporate flashbacks into the storyline as a way to better understand why Lo ...more
Jan 01, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Lou Ureneck's writing. He's an honest and earnest teller of his own history, and he doesn't waste time embellishing what doesn't need to be embellished. He's realistic with himself about his own fatherhood and marriage--what worked and what didn't--and he does an excellent job weaving his river experience with his son into what sometimes is a larger narrative. I recommend it highly, to anyone who enjoys outdoor writing, memoir, or both. I also recommend Ureneck's Cabin, though he covers m ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Toni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Other's have already said it better....this book should have had more of their trip in Alaska and less of the author's personal divorce and growing up baggage. I really did enjoy all parts relating to his travel with his son. I would even stop and read parts out loud to my family they were so good.
The joke about the bears....I will tell over and over, and I loved the quoted poem from Robert Frost.
The author is an excellent writer and knows how to tell a story. I just wished he had concentrated
Aug 03, 2011 Jesus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is more about fathers and sons than about an Alaskan fishing adventure. The breadth of the narrative is interesting, going back to the author's own childhood adventures. I would have liked more depth though, especially in the main storyline between the father and son on the fishing trip. But also it felt like there were more ties to be made between the author's past and present. He is a very good writer -- but there's more story to be explored.
Sep 23, 2009 Scott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book does not deliver what it promises. Too much about Ureneck, not enough about his boy and the rafting trip they take. There is some outstanding description, but this books seems less "graceful disclosure" and more self indulgent rambling. You had a shitty childhood. You loved your mom and she did the best she could. Your birth father was an ass. I get it.
Jan 03, 2009 Wayne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A meandering story about the author's life as he takes his son on a fishing trip. Maybe the story was a way of justifying his life's choices, his divorce and his struggling up bringing. He was telling his side of the story. Sometimes I would also like to hear the other side of the story. Maybe our justification wouldn't have much to stand on.
Apr 14, 2008 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting description of father and son's fly fishing/rafting trip in Alaska (with no guides or other people). Also enjoyed some of father's background story on growing up in dysfunctional family, doing newspaper work, building own house in Maine, and going through divorce
Nov 05, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
Ureneck has a nack for writing. I enjoyed his style. I flowed so nicely. This is a great book about relationships! Thank you First reads!
Kate Robinson
This author is so massively self obsessed it was laughable. He aptly confirms the male mid life crisis stereotype.

A whiny jerk.
Steve Peha
Feb 06, 2008 Steve Peha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book that reminded me of my own father's hopes and dreams -- and the challenges he experienced in trying to express them.
Feb 23, 2010 April.lehman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finishing it. Parts are pretty sad but the writing is so honest and thoughtful that I got really into it.
Martha Shore
I want to go to Alaska and rafting - but not without a guide or with a teenage son.
Oct 06, 2013 Bev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a little slow but definitely worth the read - especially being a fisher myself
sounds interesting. Waiting for the paperback version because I'm cheap.
Feb 23, 2011 Mongooser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
marvelous work on many levels, Mr Urenick is an exceptional wordsmith
Melissa Perkins
Jan 22, 2012 Melissa Perkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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September 2008 book group
Sep 08, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it
Anyone who's experienced divorce in their family will find plenty to identify with in these pages.
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Lou Ureneck is a teacher and writer. He lives in Boston. His first book, "Backcast," won the National Outdoor Book Award for literary merit. He has worked as a reporter and editor at the Providence Journal, the Portland (Maine) Press Herald and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He also has been a merchant seaman and carpenter. Ureneck also was a Nieman fellow and editor-in-residence at Harvard University ...more
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