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Standing in a River Waving a Stick

Gierach, John

417 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0684824256 / ISBN 13: 9780684824253
Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Fireside Angler (Smithtown, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

first leaf blank [12], 13- 235 pp.[1], colophon. In forest green cloth and gray slipcase. One of 950 copies. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 130516

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Standing in a River Waving a Stick

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition, First Printing.

Book Type: Limited Edition

About this title


"The solution to any problem-- work, love, money, whatever -- is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be." This is John Gierach's perspective on fishing and life, and it isn't entirely tongue-in-cheek. But Gierach knows that there is more to fishing than actually catching fish, or as he puts it, "The real lessons of fishing are the ones that come after you've caught some fish. They have to do with things like solitude, quietude, patience, perspective, humor, and the sublime coffee break." In Standing in a River Waving a Stick, Gierach addresses all these and more with his trademark combination of wit and wisdom. In this new book, Gierach visits his favorite trout-filled waters, from the Colorado foothills to British Columbia and points between, recounting both memorable fishing spots and memorable fish. He discusses such topics as the differences between fishing in ponds and fishing in streams; what makes a good fly pattern ("The good ones are the ones that work...and the great ones are those that survive beyond their own generation"); the ethics of writing about undiscovered trout waters; and the fly-fisher's progression from Stage One -- "when you fish from dawn to dusk without a break, get quickly drunk on something cheap, [and] spend the night wrapped in a wet blanket" -- to something slightly more civilized. Gierach takes in his surroundings with the keen and appreciative eye of a naturalist, whether he's observing the hatching patterns of flies, catching subtle clues to the presence of potentially big fish nearby, or taking note of the local denizens in his wry and philosophical way ("Rural people understand that life is basically a dangerous, unmanageable mess, so when things go wrong, their suspicions are confirmed and it's just a blessing no one was killed"). Above all, however, Gierach is an example of his own assertion that good fishermen have "the uncanny ability to immediately turn any conversation to angling with a fly rod, on the theory that the essence of anything is in how it's either like or unlike fishing." Rich in fishing lore, humor, and the seasoned know-how that has won him a devoted readership, Standing in a River Waving a Stick is sure to delight fly-fishers


John Gierach, America's favorite trout bum and author of such wise and humorous collections as Dances with Trout and Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing, sets this volume in motion by testing the waters of the philosophical stream: "Lately," he ponders, "I've been thinking about what makes a good fly-fisher, possibly the last fair question of the twentieth century that might actually have an answer." In searching for that answer, he naturally begins to spin his reels, firm in the belief that the solution to any question or problem is to go fishing, "and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be."

Of course, Gierach's life is one extended fishing trip, so he sets out for pools and streams from Montana and Michigan to British Columbia and his own Colorado, musing along the way on subsets of that last fair question like technique versus inner grace, the number of fish you actually catch, the stories you come home with, and the company you choose to cast your lot--and flies--with. As expected with Gierach, the essays of this spirited array are less answers in themselves than provocatively enjoyable journeys through a richly literate and detailed landscape of interesting bugs (the chapter called "Boatmen"), obsessions ("Getting Stuck"), local streams ("Taking It Personally"), and even a memorial service held off until the fish were biting ("Jordan River"). In the end, Gierach is left where he began, "certain that on the day I become a truly sublime fly-fisher, all my failings will be overshadowed and all my demons will swim under rocks and stay there until I go away." Until that day comes, he'll just have to take solace from the way he continues to hook us pleasurably on the natural resources of his own prose. --Jeff Silverman

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