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1. Author Craig Lesley writes, "The Sky Fisherman is my gift to the small communities I cherish."How does the small town function in the story, and what does it contribute to it? Could the novel take place in an urban setting? Why or why not?
2. The primary elements of fire and water both figure prominently in the novel. What is their significance to the story? What is the relationship each element has to the other? How do fire and water relate to the loss and redemption in the book?
3. How does the novel portray Native American traditions and beliefs? What is their relationship to the beliefs of the white community? To the events of the novel?
4. The railway figures centrally in the novel. What role does the railway play in both building character and in revealing the economics of the region? How does the metaphor of transportation relate to Culver's concerns in becoming a man?
5. The Sky Fisherman contains examples of a both natural disasters and those caused by people. What is the relationship between these two types of tragedy? In what ways are they similar? Different? Describe the psychological effects of such events.
6. Uncle Jake is a larger-than-life figure in the narrative. What kind of hero is he? What does he represent to Culver? To the community? To the novel as a whole? What sort of adulthood does he signify?
7. What is Culver's relationship to his mother? What kind of woman is she? How have the circumstances of her life influenced her character?
8. At age fourteen, Craig Lesley was crushed by a farm machine and, as he puts it, "I know the swift, unpredictable nature of accident." What role do accidents play in the book? How -- and when -- do they haunt the various characters?
9. Is The Sky Fisherman a traditional coming-of-age story? Which characters come of age and how? What events contribute to these rites of passage?
10. Who, or what, is the "sky fisherman"? Which character, or characters, figure as fishermen of the sky? How might this symbol act as a metaphor, and for what?
About the Author:
Craig Lesley is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest. He was born in The Dalles and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two daughters. He graduated from Whitman College, where he also received a Doctorate of Human Letters. He received an M.A. in English from the University of Kansas and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has spent much of his life exploring the outdoors, including an eight-year stint with the Deschutes River Guide Service in Oregon. He is the author of three previous novels, including Winterkill, forthcoming in trade paperback from Picador USA.
Of his novel, Lesley writes, "The Sky Fisherman's rugged landscape backdrops family secrets, small town mysteries and flashpoints of violence. Larger-than-life characters inhabit the Interior West, work hard, and rise to heroic actions. Jake is modeled on my uncle, a legendary fishing guide and small-town hero. Flora resembles my mother, a tenacious single parent who worked on The Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Billyum Bruised Head played high school football with me.
The book explores the anger and friendship between the Indian and white communities. Occasionally, the long-smoldering grudges are set aside to fight common natural disasters."
Posted October 7, 2010
Have read this story and all others by local author. Very intimate account of maturing and discovery. Great family book for vacation travel times and downtime.
Oregon at all corners.
Posted June 7, 2010
This book keeps the gears turning. The many mystery's that the small town has to offer will constantly stay in the back of your head throughout the entire book. Although many loose ends remain untied this book still gracefully closes. The character development is boring. The author could have done a better job introducing the lesser characters. The long anecdotes and physical descriptions made me say "Oh no! Here we go again." I could not stand having to read about Billy Joe killing a rattlesnake. Get on with the story. Besides the poor, lesser, character development this book was a great read. I only wish I knew what happened to all the dead people.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2010
This is a great read that will hold your attention to the very end. Intricate, realistic and well developed characters quickly draw you into small town life, and a plot clogged with mysteries keeps you guessing. Jake is a character who you will never forget, with his daredevilish bravery and unique knowledge of the river and the town. Throughout the book you get a taste of indian culture, and the effects of white prejudices. A great book for anyone who loves the outdoors, Lesley's descriptions of the river and fishing scenes will speak strait to your heart, as they did for me.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2005
I am taking The Award Winning Novel taught by Craig Lesley right now. Maybe that doesn't count since he's teaching his own book. Not only is he a great writer, but he's a really awesome professor! :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2003
This was a totally awesome book! Craig Lesley writes beautifully flowing prose and has, in this novel, created a murder mystery that almost reads like a classic! He intertwines Pacific Northwest Native American lore with small town living in a truly fascinating way. To give this book only a 5-star rating is a shame! This should become required reading in college-level literature courses.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2002
I do not recommend this book for those who have a weak stomach or those who like romantic stories. This book envolves alot of death and insane people. Sky Fisherman also has cursing. The swearing gets worse as the book goes on but it is necessary for you to understand the people and how they feel. The best part of this book is when the bums perform the 'do it yourself cremation!' This book makes you think. You have to assume alot of things for the book to have a real ending.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2002
This book has a little bit for everyone: outdoors, fishing, hunting, murders, mysteries, fires, heroic rescues, and old stories and legends. If a person pays attention they can learn a lot from Jake, as well as Billyum and Culver. There is cursing in this book, but the characters and tension could not be easily understood without it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.