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Fly Fish Writing > The River Why

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message 1: by Randy (new)

Randy | 34 comments Just curious: Did you all like The River Why?

I couldn't get through it.

Am I the only one?


message 2: by John (new)

John | 1 comments Loved it. One of my all time fav's....great story

message 3: by Scott (last edited Mar 16, 2010 08:49AM) (new)

Scott Carles (scottcarles) Uh, Randy, yep, you're the only one! ;-)

I'm sure there are others, but I personally loved it. Like John it is one of my all time favs as far as fly fishing fiction goes.

message 4: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) | 3 comments Haven't read it. Just requested a copy from Paperbackswap!

message 5: by Justin (new)

Justin | 19 comments I just stumbled over a copy of this for a buck, so I picked it up. I've been a little uncertain of it -- didn't Duncan write the narration for Trout Grass? I thought that was heavy-handed, but as much love as this book gets, I figured it was time to try it.

message 6: by Scott (last edited Mar 16, 2010 12:31PM) (new)

Scott Carles (scottcarles) You guys have got me thinking now. I read the book when I was about 20 (25 years ago), and I know my reading tastes were different then. Maybe I've matured some since then and wouldn't like it as much? I'll have to reread and see what I think.

message 7: by Randy (new)

Randy | 34 comments I felt the book was like a Woody Allen movie about fly fishing. I didn't find any of the characters inspiring. They all seemed like anti-heroes, which is fine if you're into that.

message 8: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Simmons (Troutschool) | 6 comments The River Why is a roller-coaster-read. Sit down, strap in, and prepare for a wild ride.
It does not induce reflective introspection. Instead it thrills you for a few hours and then softly delivers you back to reality.

message 9: by ron (new)

ron swegman (ronpiscator) | 154 comments Mod
This is one piece of extended fly fishing fiction I have not read. I have enjoyed the angling passages in the novels of Ernest Hemingway and Thomas McGuane, as well as Norman McClean's classic A River Runs Through It, but have tended to focus on the short stories (i.e. Robert Traver) and memoirs (i.e. James R. Babb) up to this point in my reading career.

message 10: by JAMES (new)

JAMES AKER | 1 comments ron wrote: "This is one piece of extended fly fishing fiction I have not read. I have enjoyed the angling passages in the novels of Ernest Hemingway and Thomas McGuane, as well as Norman McClean's classic A Ri..."


Have you read the Nick Adams stories by Hemingway? They are some of the best shorts written with fishing as a theme. Also "Anglers All" by John Taintor Foote is outstanding work containing his best story The Wedding Gift and other treasures.

message 11: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Particularly "Big Two-Hearted River."

message 12: by Cameron (new)

Cameron Scott | 10 comments Yes, but... Duncan's "Brothers K" is sooooooo much better. A lot of zeros in there, eh?

The thing about "The River Why" is that nothing has quite been written like it. Kind of gets under the skin in that sense. And complete non-flyfishers have read it. Kind of like "Life and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" if I had to give a companion book.

Maybe helps to have grown up in the PNW, too. Randy, the FFWTTMPWTW is a much more beautiful, philosophical exposition. There is a part in the middle of "The River Why" about garden angels and burning pieces of knotted wood that I think you might like though. And somewhere in there a rusty cup at the beginning of a spring. All beyond that killing what you love heavy stuff. I'd be interested to know what you think if/when you read it. Cheers!

message 13: by Randy (last edited Mar 26, 2010 06:47AM) (new)

Randy | 34 comments Maybe I'll take a look at "The River Why?" again, though the characters really rubbed me the wrong way. But that's where we seem to be in our culture - so many books and movies about people who are, to use an old phrase, anti-heroic. Maybe that's sour grapes on my part, after all, TRW sold a lot more than mine, though thanks again for your kind comments, Cameron.

In general, I've just becomed so disillusioned with literature. I guess that's why I've turned to non-fiction books about characters who overcome obstacles to do good, and old tv series, e.g. The Fugitive and Combat.

I even find so much of fly fishing literature repetitive.

message 14: by ron (new)

ron swegman (ronpiscator) | 154 comments Mod
Randy --

Agreed. American Literature is in a trying time . . .

So much of the contemporary fiction canon centers on the "Three D's" -- Divorce, Disease, and Death. Look at the "New Fiction" shelves and read the dust jacket copy -- you will almost always find one of the Three D's mentioned within the first few lines.

Non-fiction memoirs, too, are stuck in this rut. These get overlooked if the tale told does not involve a dysfunction that makes the average life look luxurious and sane in comparison.

The unreliable or unlikeable narrator is in high fashion. Literary ART, it seems, needs to come from a negative zone of experience to be FELT by the reader, who has become jaded by information overload, faux celebrity reality, media sex, and violence.

This is why I, for one, go fishing . . . and sometimes later write about the experience.

As for the repetition now beginning to be found in fly fishing literature: Well, I liken this phenomena to fly patterns -- most are not new forms, just variations on the basic themes of dry fly, wet fly, streamer, and nymph. This chorus of outdoor writers has so many voices now that I seek for those select few who together create a harmony, who sound a kindred major chord. If, after searching, I still cannot find what I want to read, then I -- like you -- set out to WRITE THAT BOOK, the one which fills the metaphysical gap in my personal library shelf.

Rod & Reeling & Reading & Writing Regards . . .

message 15: by Randy (last edited Mar 26, 2010 09:39AM) (new)

Randy | 34 comments I guess I should back track a bit. I think what will save fly fishing writing is the web, which is where I've read some good, different memoirs.

I'm even having trouble with The Great Gatsby. I just don't find any of the main characters likeable or interesting, though there is still much about the book that I like.

message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin | 19 comments I just finished The River Why last night and liked it quite a bit (even though I can't say I agree with all the protagonist's conclusions). I can see Randy's problem with it, but I think there's enough growth in the main character that it might not be exactly what you think it is.

It reminds me a bit of Tom Robbins, which isn't inherently good or bad.

As for the three Ds, I feel like these are topics that can be done well, but are too often used as a shortcut to emotion. They're big trigger issues and make the situation itself the cause of the drama, rather than the characters, emotions, ideas, etc.

On a similar list would be "Dark Side of the American dream." We get it -- suburbia isn't perfect.

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