Sadie photograph by Will Rice

Liar’s Code

Growing Up Fishing

Skyhorse | May 3, 2016

Warm, funny, and memorable musings on a life spent fishing.

With this eclectic collection of personal essays taking him from his childhood haunts along the industrial Niagara River of the 1960s to Alaska and the saltwater flats of the Caribbean, Richard Chiappone elongates the fishing-writing genre, suggesting that he finds almost anything a fisherman does interesting—anything but the actual fishing.

In one piece, he gets no farther than the curb outside his upstate New York childhood home, futilely waiting for his ride to the rivers of his dreams. In another account he describes an afternoon, standing in a midwinter snow bank, casting to house cats. With humor and self-skewering wit, Chiappone admits he can’t cast very well, ties some of the ugliest flies in the world, and spent nineteen years of his life trying to catch a permit.

The essays, both funny and touching, reveal him as a writer of stark contradictions: a man who despises winter and loves living in Alaska; who laments having spent half his life just downstream from the infamous Love Canal, and simultaneously remembers those years with elegiac fondness. Lifting his gaze past the tip of his fly rod, and beyond the river and the fish all the way into his own heart, he portrays everything from a sentimental memory of his mother to his doubts about the adequacy of his grief over a dead daughter, making this compilation a kind of memoir in linked essays—a fisherman’s life examined.

Rich Chiappone recalls—accurately and poignantly—the longings, frustrations, and low-rent triumphs of childhood fishing and brings them forward through the better part of a lifetime, proving that although fishermen do grow up, they never really change.

John Gierach, author of All Fisherman Are Liars and member of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame

With a unique blend of insight, literacy, irreverence, and self-deprecating wit, Rich Chiappone has accomplished a goal even more challenging than landing a permit on a fly: the creation of a classic.

E. Donnall Thomas Jr., two-time winner of the Traver Award, author of Redfish, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Snook

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