Lounging like a lizard in the warmth of the morning beach sun in Hobe Sound, Florida, a lot of Dombroski’s sentences in Body of Water earned rereads and pauses. I wanted to write like that.
I’d planned to review the book by the time I’d reached page 72, then, later that day I saw Burke’s review and opted to provide you his better review.
The Angler In Winter / February 22, 2017 / Monte Burke, contributing editor at Forbes.
I’m reading Chris Dombrowski’s Body of Water now. This is what some of us anglers in northern climes do in the middle of winter when we lack the time or money or luck to find ourselves in South America, New Zealand or the Bahamas. We read. We reflect. We think of seasons past and seasons to come. Dombrowski’s book, a memoir set in the Bahamas, is wonderful, an evocation of the why and not the how in angling. He has a way of describing that which may have become prosaic for the seasoned angler—the terminal tackle, the fly cast—in new and illuminating ways. Dombrowski is a poet. He is also a fly fishing guide in Montana. It is perhaps coincidence that his book arrived the same year as, Dog Run Moon, a well-reviewed short story collection by his fellow Montana fishing guide, Callan Wink. Or, maybe, we are on the vanguard of something, a literary spring bubbling up from a generation of anglers who grew up reading Thomas McGuane and Jim Harrison, men who treated their angling pieces as seriously as their novels.
Winter can be tough on the angler. So I think about these two young writers who might be following in the footsteps of these giants. It helps.tarpon2
I also think of trout streams and how we anglers are all like Huck Finn who, as A.O. Scott once wrote, “finds authenticity and freedom only on the river.” River water has a certain animate timelessness, always running, to and from. “There is a sense in which a river has no past or future: it is always now,” as Luke Jennings wrote in his fishing memoir, Blood Knots.
I think of walking a bonefish flat under the cerulean sky and catching my shadow in the water and realizing that from the side, with my 9-foot-long fly rod and the slingpack on my back, I look exactly like Picasso’s Don Quixote, sans horse.
I think of the hiss of the surf at my favorite striper spot, near my home in Brooklyn. Over my shoulder, I can see Manhattan in the distance. It looks eerily like a giant graveyard, its buildings the tombstones for something long dead, perhaps Nature, perhaps Fitzgerald’s “fresh, green breast of the new world.” And then I turn back to the fertile, fishy waters—some of the best in the country for striped bass, bluefish and false albacore—that surround this city and realize that Nature persists, somehow.
NOTE: Featured Image from Itinerant Angler podcast ad.