Inventing Montana: Dispatches from the Madison Valley

Overview


Every summer for two decades, Ted Leeson and a maverick group of close companions have returned to an old ranch house on the benchland overlooking the Madison River. Trout and fly fishing may be at the heart of their ritual return, but their experience goes far beyond fishing. For these men, fishing is more than a hobby: it’s a way of life. Leeson brilliantly contemplates both the human and natural landscape: the fly-anglers’ passionate, ironic, and sometimes hilarious allegiance to what they do; the intriguing ...
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Inventing Montana: Dispatches from the Madison Valley

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Overview


Every summer for two decades, Ted Leeson and a maverick group of close companions have returned to an old ranch house on the benchland overlooking the Madison River. Trout and fly fishing may be at the heart of their ritual return, but their experience goes far beyond fishing. For these men, fishing is more than a hobby: it’s a way of life. Leeson brilliantly contemplates both the human and natural landscape: the fly-anglers’ passionate, ironic, and sometimes hilarious allegiance to what they do; the intriguing Madison Valley and its creatures and flowers; the trout town of Ennis; maps and their revelations; the “green-card” experience of living in a place you aren’t originally from; the nature of leisure.

Full of wit, surprise, shrewd observation, and wisdom, this book tells a story about creating a place of temporary liberty, and inhabiting a world fashioned of your best imaginings, where you might, for a time, experience the potency of a place that has shaped you immeasurably and, in turn, you have shaped as well. No lover of the very best writing about fly-fishing and the natural world can afford to miss this stunning book. Whether you are a seasoned fisherman, or a curious newcomer, this book will make you want to pack up and head for the Madison Valley to experience Leeson’s world for yourself.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Pleasant ramblings among the woods and trout streams of southwest Montana. Flowing between the Rockies outside Yellowstone National Park, the Madison River is a Mecca for fly fishermen, and the little town of Ennis is its epicenter. There, for the last 20-odd years, Leeson (English/Oregon State Univ.; The Orvis Guide to Tackle Care and Repair, 2006, etc.) has been summering with a group of friends, who each bring a dash of offbeat philosophy to the conversation. Leeson's own philosophizing tends to take place out on the water. On those who hog the best fishing holes, the author writes, "Between you passes a wordless acknowledgment that some people are simply assholes and there's no future in getting worked up about it." True enough, and it's refreshing to see the sentiment phrased so plainly. Leeson is easily peeved, though, and sometimes uselessly so. He snipes, for instance, at hapless tourists who embody "the essence of ranch-skank couture." The masters of literary fishing-Kittredge, Harrison, Chatham-are rarely so ungallant, and the occasional mean-spiritedness diminishes the book. But Leeson makes up for it with contemplative moments ("No one should kill a trout without a sense of having diminished the world's quotient of wildness"), good talks over good food and even a few angling tips. He also offers hard-earned observations on the ways of rivers and river folk-including a clever reckoning of the differences between young anglers and old geezers, the latter of whom are likely to "get a little persnickety about fishing."A good book to have in the tackle box for quiet moments and a welcome addition to the literature of fishing and Montana alike.
Franklin Burroughs
“Ted Leeson is wry, deft, modest, and engaging. Without compromising those qualities, he is also a writer who illuminates human life.”
John Rowen - Booklist
“Fans of fishing and travel memoirs by Bill Tapply, Thomas McGuane, and Jim Harrison will find much to appreciate here.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781632204868
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/7/2015
  • Pages: 256

Meet the Author

Ted Leeson is the author or editor of nearly a dozen books, including the highly praised The Habit of Rivers and Jerusalem Creek. His articles and essays, both practical and literary, have appeared in such magazines as Fly Rod & Reel, Fly Fisherman, Men’s Journal, Big Sky Journal, Trout, Audubon, Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and widely elsewhere. He has taught at Oregon State University for twenty-five years and lives in Corvallis, Oregon.
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