Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life

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9780143035145: Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life

Part memoir, part travelogue, and part reflection on the deep truths of fly fishing, this original and free-wheeling book brings a philosopher’s (actually a philosophy professor’s) mind to bear on an avocation that turns ordinary men into philosophers. As he relates the progress of his yearly fishing trip to British Columbia with his father and brothers, Mark Kingwell considers everything from work, procrastination, and the way of manhood to the wet vs. dry fly debate and the best ways of fooling a fish. Sly in its humor, unassuming in its erudition, Catch and Release is a perfect book for anyone who loves fishing—or anyone who’s perplexed by it.

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About the Author:

A professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, Mark Kingwell is the author of six books, including The World We Want and Practical Judgments. He is a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine.

From Publishers Weekly:

Using a family fishing trip as a catalyst for this memoir, Kingwell reflects on the actions and ideas that the rhythm of "casting and reeling, casting and reeling" conjures up in his mind. Kingwell is only a novice fly fisherman, so his thoughts on the oft-written-about sport stick to the ABCs, but are filled with a sense of joy and awe, so they can hardly be considered basic. Ever the philosophy professor (he teaches at the University of Toronto), Kingwell's musings on angling inevitably lead to in-depth essays on the inherent nature of and reasoning for various aspects of fishing, such as casting, killing, patience and outdoorsmanship. To flesh out his theories, Kingwell quotes from a varied list of sources including philosophers (Aristotle, Nietzsche), writers (Tom Wolfe, Hemingway) and fishing scribes (Izaak Walton, John Gierach). Thankfully, the author never forgets that, despite its philosophical characteristics, fishing, even fly fishing, should be fun. To that end, he livens up his prose with humorous tales about his family (his battles with his brother Sean will speak to anyone with a sibling), Canadian men (a "weird conjunction of manliness and dandyism") and the undeniable virtues of the "boat-beer" ("well known to tone you up and improve both coordination and judgment"). Though, in the end, he gets skunked in his fishing expedition for the meaning of life, Kingwell does create a book that finds a nice balance between the meaningful and the meaningless. Illus. not seen by PW.
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