GFF book review
A CelebrationA Celebration of Salmon Rivers
Author: R. Randolph Ashton (photos)
Reviewed by Martin Joergensen The cover picture is from Laxa in Ađaldal on Iceland and does strike a note, which suits this book eloquently, being a journey in words and pictures to the world's best salmon waters. The book is a classical coffee table book, one of those books that you put out in the table to show that you are interested in fishing and nature. This is not meant in a derogative way, because the size and style of such books often make them pure seducers, which drag the reader into a dream world of distant beauty.
This is also the case here. You are drawn from one fantastic water to the next and stunned by spreads with beautiful images and texts written by The Prince of Wales, Hoagy B. Carmichael, Thomas McGuane, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Pelle Klippinge, Michael Evans, Orri Vigfússon and a long row of other names, which will ring bells to many salmon fishers around the world. From the outset you are just mesmerized by the pictures and the places. Personally I have always carried a certain portion of envy when I leaf through books like these for the first time. Why isn't it me who has been to all these classical and historical places? But after a while the enjoyment takes over and in the end the contemplation wins as I start reading the texts.
In this case I actually find the texts to be far the strongest and longest lasting impression left by the book. The images are beautiful indeed, but upon closer inspection some of them have had a very rough treatment and many of them are heavily manipulated with strange color casts. Don't misunderstand me: the pictures are generally breathtaking, but it's difficult to hold up the pace over 250 pages where you have to have one or two images on each spread. You simply wind up in a sort of monotony.
The writing on the other hand is diverse and full of variation. The little chapters on each water is written by different persons with a difference that gives strength. Some are poetic, some are factual and some are very personal. This is no how-to book, so don't expect addresses, prices, fly patterns or that sort of information. This book is an experience book rather than an instruction book.
I have only seen and fished a few of the salmon waters mentioned in the book, but it has certainly stimulated my urge to see and fish more of them. If you have just a faint drop of salmon angler's blood in your veins, this is a must-have title. Not least because a part of the price you pay (35 UK£, 50 Euros, 60 US$) will go to support the work of the NASF (North Atlantic Salmon Fund), but also because it's just a great book to feed your dreams with.
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