Thursday, August 19, 2010

A book (and blog) apart.

I've read them all you know. Plunkett Greene, Lord Grey, Farson, Gierach etc. There is no doubt that the artistry of fly fishing has inspired some magnificent literature over the decades, but there is an awful lot of mediocrity out there too - the metaphorically overwrought, pretentious bullshit peddled by Ted Leeson is one example which springs readily to mind.....there are plenty more.

So it made a pleasant change recently to pick up a book which has received universally positive reviews, and to find that those reviews were wholly justified. Luke Jennings' splendid Blood Knots deserves a place on every angler's bookshelf. I am not much of a reviewer of books (something upon which Leeson and I are no doubt agreed), so I will not embark upon a lengthy eulogy to Mr Jennings' prose here, save to say - in typical northerner style - that I know what I like and I bloody well liked this!
The book follows a fairly formulaic autobiograpical, angling childhood recollection style, but is none the worse for it. At turns vivid, emotional and heart rending, Blood Knots resonates with the author's love of fishing, his war-hero father, his angling mentor Robert Nairac. Recollections of Ampleforth school days are particularly entertaining:

"While we were eating, a small monkey appeared at the window and sat there looking in at us, its face wrinkled in melancholy. After a minute or so, when I was more or less certain it wasn't a hallucination, I hesitantly mentioned its presence.
'Yes that's the house monkey,' a second year explained. 'If someone does something really appalling and no one owns up, the monkey is beaten.'"

If angling literature is rich and varied in quality, the same can be said of angling blogs. I hugely enjoy the informal, personal styles of many blogs, but there aren't many out there which can honestly be described as superbly written. There is one however, which stands out a country mile for me - for sheer personality and quality, A Flyfisherlady's Life is a blog apart. The link has been lurking on my blogroll for a few weeks now and a visit always brings a smile to my face (and confronts me with the ham-fisted execution of my own workmanlike efforts). We don't see too many female fly fishers it's true, though why that should be the case is a mystery to me. Is it this under-represented viewpoint which contributes to the beguiling nature of Polly's blog? Quite possibly. Certainly for eloquence and lightness of touch, it knocks everything else I have read recently into a cocked hat.


Tony said...

I think you sell your self short Matt, Your modest to say the least.
The fish you catch, on the flies you tie and the way you write about them on here show that clearly enough.If I look for a little inspiration this blog is one of the first ports of call.
If you wrote a book I can guarantee you one sale!!
All the best Tony.

The Trout Underground said...

Congratulations! You're the winner of the Trout Underground's Ted Leesonpalooza Contest, and will be receiving the complete written works of Mr. Leeson in the mail!

No need to thank me. Really.

Thanks for the pointer to FlyFisherlady - I added her to my RSS reader.

Jeffrey Prest said...

Not surprised Trout Underground's responded to this, Matt, he's a bit of a Leeson fan, as am I, although I can understand why Ted might push some people over the edge. The dividing line between 'lyrical' and 'poncey' is a fine one, to be sure.