The Sky Fisherman

The Sky Fisherman

4.4 7
by Craig Lesley

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With his third novel, Craig Lesley comes into his own as an important American writer. Combining the familial loyalties and betrayals of Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It with the dead-on perfect ear for western dialect and local ritual of Thomas McGuane's Northing but Blue Skies, he presents a story that is both fresh and powerful. Laced with the solace of the


With his third novel, Craig Lesley comes into his own as an important American writer. Combining the familial loyalties and betrayals of Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It with the dead-on perfect ear for western dialect and local ritual of Thomas McGuane's Northing but Blue Skies, he presents a story that is both fresh and powerful. Laced with the solace of the great outdoors and the spirituality of the Indians on the local reservation, The Sky Fisherman is set in a small town in the Northwest, where the interwoven currents of love, death, and a boy's coming of age flow swiftly below a surface life of hard work and confrontation with the forces of nature. The boy, Culver, his twice-married mother, and his charismatic uncle Jake are shadowed by the death of Culver's father in a fishing accident. When a suspicious fire destroys the town mill and three murders occur, Culver's world is engulfed by the dangers swirling around him. Craig Lesley's strength as a storyteller lies in his

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Culver, a mild-mannered and likable young teen growing up in a small Northwestern town, is trying to sort out a great deal of confusing stuff: his father's drowning death; the bigotry evident against local Indians; his mother's dislike for his charismatic Uncle Jake; the way his outlaw stepfather, wanted for torching a railroad compound, keeps popping in and out of his life. Culver's interests run to the physical-basketball, fly-fishing and working at his uncle's bait-and-tackle shop. It's there that he receives an informal education at the feet of a group of men-dubbed the ``backroom boys'' by narrator Culver-who hang around the store and who include a cropduster, a glue-mixer at the local lumber mill, a baker, a local radio personality and an enigmatic Indian sheriff. Culver is seduced by the group's easy joviality and his Uncle Jake's heroic streak, which manifests when a fire claims the mill. But the boy discovers a secret involving his dead father that drives a wedge between himself and his uncle, and that threatens to make an adult out of him before his time. Lesley (Winterkill) is a smooth and talented writer, with a pleasing touch for detail and an unwavering confidence. His material tends to the sentimental: his central metaphor, a skyful of invented constellations as related to Culver by Uncle Jake, is an easy image, neither compelling nor powerful. But Culver is an unusually appealing character, and when the novel's close toes a maudlin line, it feels almost earned. (Aug.)
Bill Ott
Lesley's first two novels--"Winterkill" (1984) and "River Song" (1989)--examined the struggle of Native Americans to preserve the wisdom of their ancestors in the face of opposition from the bureaucratic white world. This time the tenuous coexistence between whites and Indians in the contemporary Northwest is again an element in the story, but the focus is on the coming-of-age of a young white teenager, Culver, growing up with his mother and his uncle Jake, a river guide and the owner of a sporting goods store. Lurking beneath the perfectly captured camaraderie of Jake and the good ol' boys hanging out at the store is the unresolved question of how Culver's father died in a river accident. Answering this question forces Culver to confront his family's flawed history and eventually leads him to his own epiphany on the river. Lesley has a real feel for the way the intimacy and the pettiness of small-town life push and pull both young and old. Though the novel contains a few too many flights of fly-fishing-inspired lyricism, it further establishes the author as a major voice in the fiction of the American West".

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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370 KB

Meet the Author

Craig Lesley is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest. He has received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award for both Winterkill and for The Sky Fisherman. He is also the author of River Song and Storm Rider. He lives in Portland Oregon with his wife and two daughters.

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The Sky Fisherman 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Toschpdx More than 1 year ago
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.
The_Warrior More than 1 year ago
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.
Gregg_387-1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.