Published Oct 30. 2002 - 20 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 10. 2016

Book review: Lines on the Water

David Adams Richards
Arcade Publishing
Publishing year: 
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The guy grew up on the Miramichi? Oh man. I just had to read this one.

Who hasn't dreamed of what it would be like to grow up near a river like the Miramichi? In a land largely unspoiled by so-called civilization? Among people with home-grown sensibilities and an intimate knowledge of their world gained not from study but from experience?

This is the world Mr. Richards shares with us.

In such a world can exist a man like Mr. Simms, an older gentleman who was the authors neighbor and fishing mentor when he was young. Would we all be so lucky to have such a man to learn from. A man who would go into the woods each summer with "a Coleman stove and a tin cup, fly boxes and salmon rods" and live off the land for weeks at a time.

I enjoyed this book very much. The writing style is quite comfortable, with no obvious attempts to talk up or down to the reader. There is no pretense. No stuffiness sometimes found in books referred to as "literary works". As soon as I see that description, I usually wrinkle my nose and wonder if the author is going to be another full-of-themelves stuffed shirt who in reality doesn't actually know which end of the rod to hold.

The genuineness of Mr. Richards' voice is what held my attention. Yes, there are many fish stories, and tall tales of anglers and woodsmen and others, but they are as sincere as they are entertaining. I liked that he dispensed with the mythology and nonsense found in many books. In his own words:

"Beyond all the pleasant afternoons beside a pool, narrowing to a fine rip, and the sometimes naive, ethereal descriptiveness, fishing is finally about Green Butts, Copper Killers, Rusty Rats, low water bugs, Green Machines, blood and death".


Fly fishing is not golf, and it's not Zen. In his world, fishing is part of life. As natural and unassuming as laundry and sleeping. I'm am thankful for the opportunity to get a glimpse into a life and world that otherwise would be closed to a "from away" such as myself.

This is a wonderfully well written book, with a fascinating mix of adventures and characters. Do yourself a favor - get yourself something to drink, go plop in your favorite comfy chair, and open up to the first page. You won't be sorry.


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