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River Music: A Fly Fisher's Four Seasons
     

River Music: A Fly Fisher's Four Seasons

by James R. Babb, C. D. Clarke (Illustrator)
 

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James R. Babb imbues his devastating wit, ornery perspective, and musical language within each of the ribald tales in River Music. This is exemplified in the “Prelude,” his opus about “the occasional laugh, the occasional thought, a bit about fly fishing and a bit about Life, and all of it underpinned by the music of rivers.” The pieces are

Overview


James R. Babb imbues his devastating wit, ornery perspective, and musical language within each of the ribald tales in River Music. This is exemplified in the “Prelude,” his opus about “the occasional laugh, the occasional thought, a bit about fly fishing and a bit about Life, and all of it underpinned by the music of rivers.” The pieces are arranged in a harmonious current that carries us through the seasons, and life itself.
He recounts a disastrous—and hilarious—spring canoeing trip with a friend in “The Darling Buds of May,” where the snow accumulated so quickly on their hats that they “looked like Conehead voyagers from Remulak.” In “The Coriolis Effect,” Babb rhapsodizes about the sights, smells, and culture of what he considers to be the last great place on Earth, where pristine Chilean waters and a native way of life relieve him of an obsession about which direction the water flushes. And in “Little Jewels,” he weaves an exquisite, deeply humorous, and haunting nocturne with peccadillo accompaniment that considers the mating habits of trout and men, mortality, and a thirty-nine-year-long unrequited love. Babb is a maverick whose latest offering is a true departure from conventional essays on fly fishing, or on any subject, and will be relished by the growing circle of Babb fanatics everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Ranks with some of the best nature writers in print.”--Kirkus Reviews

“So fluid and configured is Babb’s writing that to read him is as delicious to the senses as to the mind.”--Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of the Cracker Childhood, Winner of the American Book Award

"He has a fine eye for fine words. . . It's good. His confessions are insightful, and a bit surprising, his metaphors nail their targets and his words flow . . . like river music. Sometimes smooth, sometimes a bit rushed, sometimes in a tumble, but when they sift into the pool there's a clarity and insightful depth. . . . If you haven't sat down with a good story book, just to read good stories for the enjoys--this may be a good place to start."--The Reel News

"Babb's background--his assorted careers and range of interests and obsessions--creates a large and curious cache of knowledge, a personal encyclopedia of information and set of skills on which to draw, write, cook, build houses, or grind tappets. Such people--polymaths, you know--may end up commanding armies of vivid verbs, owning collections of perspectives that allow them to smelt the most surprising amalgams. But that's only part of the story. Add to that a memory that traps images, music, and language, and the wit to dissect streams, cultures and edible animals, then blend in a fondness for people, however mercilessly perceived. Combine these with withering honesty, then a kind of irreverence. . . How does that all work in River Music? Beautifully. Hysterically, at times." --Fly Rod & Reel

"Babb takes his readers on a roller-coaster ride through farce and satire to elegy and folk-tale. He's a flyfishing Mark Twain who knows a little bit too much about Beavis and Butthead. The stories meander and turn like the streams on which they are set, leaving the reader wondering where each essay will deposit them." --Library Journal

Library Journal
This reviewer once compared Babb's Crosscurrents: A Fly Fisher's Progress (LJ 12/99) to fellow fly-fishing author John Gierach's Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders (LJ 615/00). Babb's latest book is better than anything Gierach has written in five years. Babb, the editor of Gray's Sporting Journal, takes his readers on a roller-coaster ride through farce and satire to elegy and folktale. He's a flyfishing Mark Twain who knows a little bit too much about Beavis and Butthead. The stories meander and turn like the streams on which they are set, leaving the reader wondering where each essay will deposit them. The result is a joy to read and essential for any library. Jeff Grossman, Milwaukee Area Technical Coll. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Babb is undoubtedly living the dream of thousands of American men: he's not only free to fish the rivers of North and South America—he's paid to do so (and write about it). He opens his paean to the art of rod-and-reel during a Maine spring, when the caprice of the May weather ruins one of his elaborately planned fly-fishing expeditions. His ability to evoke the woodlands of Maine in May—the movements of the animals, the quality of the air, the clear song of the white-throated sparrow—ranks him with some of the best nature-writers in print. Anyone familiar with the great forests of the American North will recognize how canny Babb's word-photography is, and as his narrative moves on to other fishing expeditions in Canada and later South America, his prose becomes more concrete, but no less poetic. He makes new friends and finds new fishing spots in Quebec, is awed by the beauty of Chile, and waxes rhapsodic about the little rivers he first fished as a boy in Tennessee. He dissects the joys and miseries of camping, with a sharp eye for the absurd. The clash of cultures, the rituals of mating, and the precariousness of the natural world are all carefully woven into the story as subtexts. The author's sometimes ribald humor will not be to everyone's taste, but his offbeat style is likely to find its own audience. A good addition to any collection of nature-writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592287123
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
07/01/2005
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.62(d)

Read an Excerpt


(from AUTUMN: The Coreolis Effect):

" Harry just shook his head. I'd been interrogating him about Chilean rise rings since we'd left Alabama that morning and in a flurry of inquisitional faxes even before. I was sure he was holding out on me about which way the rings spiral, though for what reason I could not yet fathom. But ahead of us was a week on the Futaleufu River in the Patagonian Andes, and by all accounts there'd be trout rising as far as the eye could see. And all of those rise rings, according to this theory I'd caught but could not seem to release, would swirl counterclockwise. I'd get to the bottom of this or annoy everyone around me trying.
'When the trout in my pond snarf kibbles,' I told everyone still pretending to listen, 'the swirl goes clockwise. In the Northern Hemisphere air flows out from a center of high pressure in a clock-wise circulation, and air flowing into a center of low pressure--a hurricane, for instance--veers counterclockwise. South of the equator it reverses. If the Coriolis effect governs hurricanes and plumbing drains, why not trout? And dogs? When my dog hits the sack, she circles her bed with the clock. So does my friend Byron's dog down in Tennessee. Only once did I see Madison circle counterclockwise, and that after his housemate, Gibbon, had beat hell out of him for trying to sneak into her bed. Wow, has the lodge got a dog? Did you ever notice which way it circles when it goes to bed?'
I was getting excited now, but my fellow travelers were looking for polite ways of changing the subject. Obsessions, I have to keep reminding myself, are only interesting to those who have them.
Like many members of my annoying generation, I catch obsessions the way normal people catch colds, and like colds most last a week if indulged or seven days if ignored. For many people fly fishing is an obsession, but having acquired the habit before the onset of sentience, fly fishing is for me more an involuntary act of everyday living, like sleeping or eating or watching reruns of The Simpsons20.

Meet the Author


James R. Babb is the editor of Gray's Sporting Journal and author of Crosscurrents, which Library Journal hailed as "the best fly-fishing book" of 2001. He was born and grew up in East Tennessee, and has worked as a commercial lobster fisherman, a truck driver, a boatyard worker, a reporter, and a feature writer. 

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