An Honest Angler: The Best of Sparse Grey Hackle

Overview

Sparse Grey Hackle is the icon of the golden age of fly fishing, the confidant and recorder of the first generation of fly fishers - George LaBranche, Edward Hewitt, Harry and Elsie Darbee, and Vincent Marinaro, to name a few. An Honest Angler is a full and satisfying collection of Sparse's famous and unforgettable essays and the best of his lesser-known newspaper articles, columns, and letters - selected and edited by his daughter. Sparse writes about a wide spectrum of subjects: fly fishing, writing, wild life,...

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Overview

Sparse Grey Hackle is the icon of the golden age of fly fishing, the confidant and recorder of the first generation of fly fishers - George LaBranche, Edward Hewitt, Harry and Elsie Darbee, and Vincent Marinaro, to name a few. An Honest Angler is a full and satisfying collection of Sparse's famous and unforgettable essays and the best of his lesser-known newspaper articles, columns, and letters - selected and edited by his daughter. Sparse writes about a wide spectrum of subjects: fly fishing, writing, wild life, track, boating, his military days, and, of course, friends and family. With a moving and humorous biographical foreword by Pat Sherwood, this book is a must for every Sparse Grey Hackle fan, and for anyone interested in angling, sports, and great writing. (6 1/4 X 9 1/4, 276 pages)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hackle was the pen name of Alfred W. Miller (1892-1983), an angler whose essays and articles appeared in many publications for a good part of this century. This collection of his magazine articles, newspaper columns and letters to friends has been put together by his daughter. He is disarmingly candid about why anglers fish: "Your typical fisherman is... taking refuge from the realities of life." He knows the history of fly-fishing, the rods, the gear (there's a delightful history of waders) and the companions one is likely to encounter. In a way it's unfortunate that Miller's reputation rests so heavily on his pieces about fishing, for he is a charming essayist on a number of quite unrelated subjects and an entertaining storyteller as well. His tales of his career in the Army chasing Pancho Villa in Texas and Mexico are captivating, as are his recollections of the Ambulance Service in France during WWI. Those who are skeptical about Miller's way with a phrase will be won over by several columns he wrote for the vacationing Red Smith, the dean of sportswriters of his time and an exceedingly tough judge of literary style. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
These columns, articles, and letters from the late fly-fishing writer Sparse Grey Hackle (a.k.a. Alfred W. Miller) will delight those familiar with his work but will sometimes leave the newcomer in the dark. Hackle (18921983), who took his nom de plume in the 1930s when he wrote "furious articles" protesting the pollution of Catskill Mountain streams, is best remembered for his classic Fishless Days, Angling Nights. Several pieces from that book appear here, along with columns from the New York Times, Outdoor Life, and elsewhere. Sherwood, his daughter, intersperses these with excerpts from letters to a number of friends and fellow fishermen, including Nick Lyons, Lewis Hull, Howard Walden, and Henry Darbee. The letters are often problematic in that there is little or no background information provided; the reader must know who the correspondent is or the cheerful banter can sink like a lead weight. The columns are often quite entertaining, even if Hackle's folksy good humor seems dated. There's a good piece on Finger Lakes, New York, "a lovely land of woods and waters," he writes, but nature has provided "so little fishing for so much water." A delightful exchange in the 1930s and '40s with the editor of Rod and Gun finds Hackle wishing bumblebees could be designated "a game animal" along with backyard "moochers" such as robins and crows and woodpeckers. Another good piece, "Murder," involves a Depression-era businessman who escapes his financial woes by going fishing. There's also a nice portrait of Harry and Elsis Darbee, owners of a Catskills fly and tackle shop (though no dates are provided as to when they operated). Some lovely writing ("a fine fly rod is a magnificent thing, astrain of music made visible"), but Hackle would be better served with a framework that does more than simply reprint columns and excerpts with little or no logical order or context.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558216242
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1998
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.88 (d)

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