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Critics have hailed James R. Babb as one of the best nature writers in print, and in Fly Fishin' Fool, the third and arguably best of his highly successful books about his adventures and misadventures, fly fishing is yet again a subject for his hilarious musings, and also a departure. To better skewer the objects of his well deserved scorn, Babb has donned the fool’s cap “to acquire the freedom enjoyed by fools and jesters in medieval times, snickering behind a mask of assumed innocence so that he can speak his mind on matters of import unfettered by the social graces.”
In “All in the Family” he considers the ultimate low-rent method of angling for eels, and the only thing in angling history his family name has ever managed to adhere to, despite his best efforts. In “Sailfishing with Señor Ed,” Costa Rican sailfish meets madman machoism, as told by a trout fisherman who’d rather be home. Babb fishes a small creek in a Montana grizzly bear sanctuary with a couple of old East Tennessee high school buddies and nothing but the protection of a collection of old Southern hymns in “The Wings of a Dove.” And in “Crusher
Hole,” he examines a tough trout pool in the Smoky Mountains, where a fool and his dignity are soon parted.
Part Samuel Clemens, part Ambrose Bierce, part Norman Maclean, Jim Babb’s piquant observations about the human condition, adroit similes, and consummate wordplay come together in the unique mastery of language and storytelling that avid Jim Babb readers have come to savor. Fly Fishin' Fool will surely be savored by lovers of fine nature writing and students of American letters.
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James R. Babb is the editor of Gray's Sporting Journal and author of River Music and Crosscurrents, which Library Journal hailed as "the best fly-fishing book" of 2001. He was born and grew up in East Tennessee, and has worked as a commercial lobster fisherman, a truck driver, a boatyard worker, a reporter, and a feature writer. He lives in Searsport, Maine.
"Fishermen often take themselves too seriously and the failing is even more common--not to mention annoying--among writers, but Jim Babb has somehow escaped all that. He has learned that if you tell the absolute truth about fishing, you'll become known as a humorist."--John Gierach
"Once could be an accident; twice might be coincidence; but three times is conclusive beyond a doubt. In his third book, Jim Babb proves yet again that he’s one of the funniest, most literate, most relentlessly ironic writers ever to poke a pen at the soft underbelly of fly-fishing. And here, he takes on his most formidable target to date—himself. Fly-Fishin’ Fool is Babb at the top of his game."--Ted Leeson
"Fool? Maybe, but the kind of holy fool and Zen savant who is far wiser than the solemn exponents of fly fishing's seriousness. He is also angling's funniest writer."--Steve Bodio
"The easiest thing to admire is Babb's wit, craft, and erudition. He's a language wizard with the range of a diva; as comfortable offering the broken knuckled perspectives of a lobsterman as with quoting Donne, Dickens, and Trollope."--Seth Norman
"I had as much fun reading these stories as Jim Babb had experiencing them, although I have never flung a fly-line in my life. Babb’s understated sense of adventure and his singular good humor serve him well: true to his Southern roots, he is a magnificent storyteller, a man never without a spell-binding yarn. His stories are lively, philosophical, impeccably crafted. This book has everything--wit, instruction, devotion, a good dose of serendipity, and just enough humbleness mixed with a modicum of chest-thumping. Plus a recipe thrown in for good measure! Fly-Fishin’ Fool is outrageous, intrepid, intelligent: what more could one want in a book?--Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home, and Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land
"Sometimes acerbic, sometimes wondrous, always fresh, the canon of fishing writing is far richer for Babb's indulgence in it, and more so with each new book."--Charles Rangeley-Wilson
"Fly-Fishin' Fool has a self-deprecating, confessional tone and the comic timing of Woody Allen."--Charles Rangeley-Wilson
"James Babb has a wildly off-beat sense of humour and an unrivalled ability to get it down on paper. And like the best story-tellers he whisks the reader along seductively."--Charles Rangeley-Wilson.
Praise for Crosscurrents:
"The best fly-fishing book of the year."--Library Journal
"Humor is so hard to write--the good stuff so rare--that who better to twist wit than the most literate wordsmith?"--Fly Rod & Reel
"A witty, insightful examination of a fly fisher's progress from rash youth to contemplative childhood."--Sports Afield
Praise for River Music:
"His ability to evoke the woodlands of Maine in May--the movements of the animals, the quality of the air, the clear song of the white-throated sparrow--ranks him with some of the best nature writers in print."--Kirkus
"This reviewer once compared Babb's Crosscurrents to fellow fly-fishing author John Gierach's Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders. Babb's latest book is better than anything Gierach has written in five years . . . the result is a joy to read and essential for any library."--Library Journal
"Babb hgas successfully carved out a niche, alongside Norman Maclean, as a superior fly-fishing writer, and moreover as a keen observer of human comedy. This sequel to his successful Crosscurrents expands (and organizes by season) essays from Gray's Sporting Journal and positions Babb as fly fishing's tastefully restrained counterpart to Dave Barry."--Publishers Weekly
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