Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World's Most Alluring Fish

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9781571313522: Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World's Most Alluring Fish
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Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions poetry and fly-fishing; two children, one of them in utero; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter, at this particularly challenging moment, a miraculous email: can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami.

Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide. Bonefish are prized for their elusiveness and their tenacity. And no one was better at hunting them than Pinder, a Bahamian whose accuracy and patience were virtuosic. He knows what the fish think, said one fisherman, before they think it.

By the time Dombrowski meets Pinder, however, he has been abandoned by the industry he helped build. With cataracts from a lifetime of staring at the water and a tiny severance package after forty years of service, he watches as the world of his beloved bonefish is degraded by tourists he himself did so much to attract. But as Pinder’s stories unfold, Dombrowski discovers a profound integrity and wisdom in the guide’s life.

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About the Author:

Born in Michigan, Chris Dombrowski earned his MFA from the University of Montana. His publications include two collections of poems, By Cold Water (2009) and Earth Again (2013). His poetry and nonfiction have been widely published in leading journals and magazines. Also a well-established fly-fishing guide, Dombrowski lives in Missoula, MT.

Review:

Best Book of 2016: Bloomberg and Big Sky Journal

Selected as a Top Ten favorite for the Indie Next List (Winter 2017-2018)

“A brilliant book. Destined to be a classic.”―Jim Harrison

“Dombrowski’s writing exhibits a poetic sense of economy. There’s a tremendous amount of information here on the geological, botanical, biological and human history of the region, but the author uses only what’s necessary to the story and relates it in evocative, concise language that reminded me of Gary Snyder one minute and John McPhee the next. Dombrowski’s exacting descriptions of the sport make me long to try it again―and to wish that more fishing books were written by poets.”Wall Street Journal

“Brings to life the remarkable natural beauty of the bonefish flats and their flora and fauna. The portrayal of this complex ecosystem left me with deep concern for how much longer this treasure will last in the face of global pressures on our oceans and environment.”―Robert Rubin, in the 2016 Best Books issue of Bloomberg

“Dombrowski elevates the fly-fishing-as-meditation narrative by the sheer fact that he’s so damn good at writing about it. There’s prose and practicality in equal parts, so the allure of the sport comes through.”Outside

Body of Water is about bonefishing, but it is also about ecosystem exploitation, class conflict, wealth inequity, race relations, Bahamian history, mentor-mentee relationships, nature as the catalyst for self-awareness, and more. . . . The lyrical narrative strikes a delicate balance between reflective memoir and reportage.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Part love letter to fishing, part natural history of the Bahamas, part conservationist manifesto, and part meditation on the self . . . . Dombrowski’s talent as a writer is on full display here, his tight and rhythmic prose reminding one of the gentle and relaxing lap of water against the hull of a fishing boat on a sunny and windless day.”―Indie Next List (Winter 2017-2018), chosen by Lane Jacobson, Flyleaf Books

“A lyrical, genre-defying tribute. Drawing on Caribbean history and the evolution of fly-fishing, Dombrowski’s foray into nonfiction proves thematically complex, finely wrought, and profoundly life-affirming.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This gorgeous work wastes not a word on fly-fishing basics. It dives Moby-Dick deep into a famed sport and livelihood's very essence, and never leaves. In the hands of veteran trout guide and poet Dombrowski, the ‘Abraham’ of Caribbean guides, David Pinder Sr., becomes the perfect embodiment of the near mystery religion that is saltwater-flats fishing. Via the hearts of two men utterly in love with the wounded world in which their calling takes place, Body of Water then pours forth beauties, subtleties, dark history, and insight with an unforced lyrical power I associate with no lesser word than ‘masterpiece.’ Dombrowski’s Michigan-to-Montana trajectory updates Jim Harrison, his comedic fishing scenes bear comparison to Thomas McGuane, and his powers of ebullient reflection bring to mind Mary Oliver―yet I’ve read no book anything like Body of Water, and enjoyed no book in memory more.”―David James Duncan, author of The River Why

“This is some of the best writing that you’ll ever read about fishing. But Body of Water achieves even more―it’s a passionate, luminous, completely delightful book.”―Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia

“A metaphor-laced meditation on the art and practice of fly-fishing, the social and economic history of the Bahamas, the evolution of archipelago geology and the chronicle of Dombrowski’s personal struggle to juggle his fishing and poetry obsessions against the financial needs of his own family . . . Fly-fishing mysticism at its best.”Shelf Awareness

“Rarely do cautionary tales dazzle like this. It’s a credit to Dombrowski’s prose, which torques and twists and glistens into view much like the bonefish itself. . . . This is a book about seeking that which we cannot see, of understanding a place and its people not nearly as foreign as we might imagine. It’s a book about what connects us, and a book about disconnection, too. Though most importantly, it’s a meditation, not only on the ebb and flow of our lives, but on the lives with which we share this planet. By book’s end, Dombrowksi leaves readers with many lessons, though this one most of all: whether on a skiff or in a book, the guide matters. And Dombrowski’s the one you want.”Los Angeles Review

“Dombrowski makes the East End of Grand Bahama Island rise right up out of green water and live on the printed page. But his lasting achievement is in giving an old forgotten man of the sea named David Pinder his beautiful bonefishing due.”―Paul Hendrickson, author of Hemingway’s Boat

“Dombrowski has fetched up a marvel. So very much is in it―geology, biology, fishing lore; conservation and natural history and personal quest―all seen by a wondrously limber mind traversing space and time. I don’t fish but this scarcely matters―Body of Water is about being alive. An abundant and reverential feast of a book.”―Noy Holland, author of Bird

Body of Water hits you in two ways. The first is obvious―this is a book about fish and fishing from a writer who’s put in the time to know what he’s talking about. But the second takes you by surprise: at its core, Body of Water is about our increasingly tenuous connection to nature, from a poet who understands the source of that strange and melancholic joy that we are blessed with only when we stand in wild places.”―Steven Rinella, author of Meat Eater

“Uncanny and moving. This book will not only make you change your vacation plans, it might make you change your life. A reverent, almost holy book, of angling lore.”―Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red

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