With this eclectic collection of essays, short stories, and poems, Richard Chiappone elongates the fishing-writing genre like a perfect backcast, suggesting that he finds almost anything a fisherman does interesting–anything but the actual fishing. He describes only one sport fish landed—a late season Alaskan steelhead too cold to put up a fuss about being hooked. In another piece, he never gets any farther than his own backyard, standing in a midwinter snow bank, casting to house cats. 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 thinks that the Clean Water Act ruined as much as it fixed. At the heart of these writings is one fisherman’s curiosity about how others might think and feel, and the real quarry Chiappone is casting about for is always empathy.
You expect a skilled essayist and angler to deftly dissect the weird world of fly fishing, a talented short-story writer to shine fresh light on the human condition, a sensitive and insightful poet to reveal the invisible. What you don’t expect is one writer to do it all—brilliantly, beautifully, with wit, pathos, and surprise on every dog-eared page.James R. Babb, Editor, Gray’s Sporting Journal