Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

THE UNREASONABLE VIRTUE OF FLY FISHING

The prolific author returns to an old love: angling for trout.

“Any day fishing on a wintry river is a great day,” writes Kurlansky, refuting Tolstoy’s grumpy assertion that angling is “a stupid occupation.” His river of choice is the appropriately named Salmon, in central Idaho, where the water flows so swiftly that Lewis and Clark named it the “River of No Return.” It’s not open in winter, notes the author, but there are other wintry rivers where one can test “the only two rules of fly fishing that cannot be broken: you cannot fall in and you must keep your fly in the water as much as possible. Everything else depends on circumstance.” This being a book by Kurlansky, who never met a fact he didn’t like, the narrative turns from his experiences as a fisherman to a more universal history. First come the fish themselves, the salmonids, which people have been harvesting for millennia. Only one of those species is a true trout, namely Salmo trutta, the brown trout, with every other kind of trout so called only because they resemble it. The author then moves on to the “acclimatization” projects of the French and the British, “an imperialist concept in an age of Empire,” whereby British anglers felt it was only proper that the brown trout follow the course of conquest, which explains why it can now be found in places such as New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa, “to assure that anywhere a British colonist went, there would be good game for a fly rod.” As for rods and flies, Kurlansky geeks out, reciting names that are known to this day: Charles Orvis, for one, whose contributions to the tackle box are legion; and Clarence Birdseye, the frozen-food magnate whose automatically retracting reel when a fish struck was a dismal failure since “hauling out the fish is part of fishing.”

Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

Pub Date: tomorrow

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A sumptuous, nostalgic ode to a disappearing landscape

THE LOST WORDS

An oversized album compiled in response to the recent omission by the Oxford Junior Dictionary of many natural-science words, including several common European bird, plant, and animal species, in favor of more current technological terms.

In his introduction, Macfarlane laments this loss, announcing his intention to create “a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words.” Each lost word is afforded three double-page spreads. First, the letters of each lost word are sprinkled randomly among other letters and an impressionistic sketch in a visual puzzle. This is followed by an acrostic poem or riddle describing essential qualities of the object, accompanied by a close-up view. A two-page spread depicting the object in context follows. Morris’ strong, dynamic watercolors are a pleasure to look at, accurate in every detail, vibrant and full of life. The book is beautifully produced and executed, but anyone looking for definitions of the “lost words” will be disappointed. The acrostic poems are subjective, sophisticated impressions of the birds and animals depicted, redolent with alliteration and wordplay, perhaps more appropriate for creative writing prompts than for science exploration. This book is firmly rooted in the English countryside, celebrating such words as “conker,” “bramble,” and “starling” (invasive in North America), but many will cross over for North American readers. A free “Explorer’s Guide” is available online.

A sumptuous, nostalgic ode to a disappearing landscape . (Picture book/poetry. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4870-0538-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Anansi Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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