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No Shortage of Good Reviews

BREAKING NEWS– John Gierach’s latest book, No Shortage of Good Days, is available! At the time of this writing I received my copy, special ordered from Bobwhite Studios, about three week’s ago. It’s a signed edition, autographed by Gierach himself and personalized by cover artist Bob White, which makes me feel pretty cool (although I’m not).

I’m no literary critic. As a very well unknown author myself, I fear respect those who would write reviews – at least honest reviews. Unfavorable ones are the worst, or perhaps the best, because they’re honest. And there should be no other type of review, because if the review isn’t honest then it has no merit. Reviews are, however, simply opinions of the individual and should be taken with a grain of salt. And maybe a splash of tequila for good measure in case it’s of the unfavorable variety.

If you want a good review of No Shortage of Good Days, I suggest you look elsewhere. By that I don’t mean go looking for a favorable review elsewhere, just a review written by someone who writes good. Here are a few blog reviews worth your time to visit:

The Trout Underground. Make sure you’re not in a hurry, and have a full mug of piping hot coffee at hand before you commit to Tom Chandler’s epic novel review. It’s comprehensive. Well-written. It’s long. I think when Tom wrote this he was in dire need of a fishing vacation. The suspense builds over the course 3 days as Chandler teases us – offering brief glimpses into what is to follow – 5 times before actually delivering the full meal deal. Good God man! Honestly, given the attention given to the book, it’s as if Chandler worships the paper Gierach writes on, in much the way that we hack bloggers idolize The Trout Underground. He’s clever. His review is worth the commitment required.

Up The Poudre. I don’t want to publicize the name of the blogger responsible for this review for fear of blowing his cover. You see, he has wisely exiled himself to the remote hills in Colorado. If you know where the Unabomber hid out, you know where I’m talking about. He (not the Unabomber) is in hiding: posting blog updates via a satellite up-link. Eventually Google Earth’s cameras will find him, if Gierach’s henchmen don’t first. Godspeed, Sanders man. It’s an honest review, if even for having only covered 2 chapters. It brings up some interesting things to ponder about blogs perhaps taking the place of books for some people.

Casting Around. I’ll admit that when I stumbled upon this review, it was the first I’d heard of this blog. I’ve no doubt there are countless other good blogs out there that I’ve never seen nor ever will. There are just so very many blogs, and so very little time. Blog keeper Anthony Naples scribes a good review here, and by that I don’t mean it’s favorable (though it is), but is well thought out and well written.

If I were to take a stab at reviewing No Shortage of Good Days I would have to say that there’s very little that I can find to be disappointed with, and quite a great deal that I enjoyed. However, I do have a couple issues that have nothing to do with whether or not Gierach’s latest book is being redundant and giving us more of the “same old same old” as he continues to weave insight into his entertaining angle on fly fishing…No, what I have a beef with are a couple of glaring inaccuracies. First, in Chapter 2, page 14, Gierach writes:

Vince and I rented a car at the Seattle airport, drove north along the coast, and got a room at a motel in a small town not far from the river. This was a typically characterless American burg beside an interstate comprised of cookie-cutter housing developments, strip malls and burger joints: everything quick, cheap, and temporary in the interest of hyperconsumerism.

He had me until “drove north along the coast.” Allow me to veer a bit off course for a moment as I explain.

People in “Eastern Washington” which is anywhere east of the Cascade Crest according to many wet-siders, are prone to referring to those of us in the greater Seattle/Puget Sound area as being from “the coast”. People from Spokane are particularly fond of this inaccurate term of endearment. Well, I’m here to tell you that while the salt water in Puget Sound may well be the same salt water that can be found in the Pacific Ocean (connected by the Strait of Juan de Fuca), Puget Sound is not the coast. In fact I fished within 10 miles of the coast this past Spring, on the Hoh River out near Forks. It was a 4 hour trip from where I live, which is near Seattle (you know, on “the coast”).

But back to Gierach’s book. In Chapter 2, aptly titled “SKAGIT”, Gierach is bound for the river by the same name to chase the elusive wild steelhead with Dave McCoy of Emerald Water Anglers and Dylan Rose of Skate the Fly. The Skagit River empties into Puget Sound not too far the town of Mount Vernon, Washington, which should not to be confused with George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virgina (by the way, there is a street by the name of Virginia in the town of Mount Vernon, Washington). The Skagit is not a coastal river. The body of water that Gierach would have glimpsed as he drove north along I-5 was Puget Sound, not the Pacific Ocean. In his defense, it’s a confusing region because Vancouver is located  164 miles to the south and also 141 miles to the north of Seattle (click on map for clarification).

One other inaccuracy that I had a hard time letting go of occurs on page 56 of Chapter 6: BAJA. Gierach talks of the hazards of standing barefoot in the surf while casting to roosterfish.

“…and the water can be filled with chunks of dead jellyfish that have been churned into pieces by the waves. They sting your feet and bare legs painfully, but they’re harmless unless you get a big piece. You learn not to complain because the only known remedy is urine—your own or someone else’s.”

False! I questioned this jellyfish-sting remedy years ago after watching a television sitcom (I think it was “Friends”) where one character was stung by jellyfish and another character peed on them. This organic first aid treatment is nothing but an old wive’s tale, according to an ABC News Health article. Perpetuating such a myth is irresponsible journalism because it may result in scores of people needlessly urinating on each other at the beach. It does, however, make for more entertaining prose than if Gierach were to have said, “It’s a sound idea to always carry with you a bottle of vinegar to treat a jellyfish sting.”

Having said all that, no doubt Gierach’s covert band of revenging henchmen will soon be seeking me out to issue forth a bit of discipline, thus, I’ll be entering the Witness Protection Program. I hope that they put me somewhere near the coast. Forks would be nice. There’s good steelhead fishing out there, and not many stinging jellyfish to be worried about. Maybe if Gierach had gone to Forks in chapter 2, he might’ve caught a fish.

As for the rest of the book? I liked it. I’ve read a few of his other books and liked them as well. Gierach’s writing style suggests that he’s a regular dude—a regular dude who just so happens to be a legend in the eyes of fly fishing readers worldwide. He doesn’t try to impress or intimidate by casually throwing around big words (I only had to look up one word in chapter 6: abrade). The format of his books works well for me as they are a compilation of short stories broken into chapters. The older I get the more my attention span seems to shrink (along with loss of muscle mass), so novels and such, which require great commitments of time and feats of strength, are something I find myself reading less and less often. With Gierach’s writing I can easily knock out a chapter during a brief respite in my day (I was going to suggest that these quick pit stops usually follow my first cup of morning coffee, but that was already alluded to on page 76 of chapter 8: BOOK TOUR).

Will you like No Shortage of Good Days by John Gierach? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly what I’ve said here will not impact your opinion in the way that a good review might.

"Close to Home" by Bob White

 

By the way, the cover illustration for No Shortage of Good Days is worth the price alone, which happens to be $24. The illustration by Bob White is titled, “Close to Home” and was originally created to illustrate Gierach’s 100th column in Fly Rod & Reel magazine. It is available in 3 print sizes, signed by both the subject and the artist, via Bobwhitestudios.com.

26 thoughts on “No Shortage of Good Reviews”

  1. Chuck says:

    I have read every book there is on fly fishing! I quit reading them last year because they all start to sound the same! I don’t need to hear John extol the virtues of his favorite coffee pot again ! I’m tired of hearing about all the great places these guys have been – places a mere mortal like me will never see! Yeah, I’m bitter!

    Having said that; if ya only read one book – read “The longest silence.” It’s the best of them all. Read it and then spend your time on something more productive like starting a blog! Ha!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Chuck, I bet you haven’t read Olive the Little Woolly Bugger.

    2. Steve Z says:

      Dude, don’t belittle the coffee pot. Take a shot at his use of adjectives or geographical inaccuracies. But the coffee pot?! Low.

    3. Ken McBroom says:

      Chuck I have to say there is a way for mere mortals to enjoy “those” places provided they go to those places. John says it all in the video herehttp://books.simonandschuster.com/All-Fishermen-Are-Liars/John-Gierach/9781451618310

  2. Sanders says:

    I was hoping that you wouldn’t mention the shack I’ve been hiding out in…Although, I’m sure that if someone looked hard enough on my blog they would find it pretty easily. I even made a rustic ladder to get to the roof (lookout tower), so I could get the jump on the aforementioned henchmen…I’m not sure how Gierach will take your 2 critiques, but I hope no witness relocation program will be needed…or at the very least, I hope that your fingers are spared.

    Enjoyed the review, glad you decided to enter the fray…ha!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Glad to hear that you’re still with us, Sanders, and I hope that by this time next week I am, too. IF they do take my fingers, I hope that they’ll leave at least one on each hand. The middle finger. You know, so I can still grasp a fly rod.

      1. Sanders says:

        I think you’re right, as long as you could keep the middle fingers, it wouldn’t be so bad…functionally speaking of course.

        1. Kirk Werner says:

          On second thought I may need a thumb, too.

  3. I feel the need to set the record straight; I don’t so much worship the ground Gierach walks on as much as I worship the traffic his literary footsteps bring to the Underground. (Well, actually, I kinda do worship the ground he walks on.)

    That said, I feel compelled to point out that my “novel” length review is only a few words longer than yours, and mine was padded by several excerpts from Gierach’s book, so clearly, accuracy demands I correct several glaring inaccuracies in your review:

    I knew what “abrade” meant (this isn’t a correction so much as a boast)
    The Serious Medical Drama “Scrubs” also made reference to the peeing/jellyfish thing, which makes me wonder which show Gierach actually watches
    You’re a little anal about geography (again, not a correction)
    Where does the “Up the Poudre” guy live again?

    After the beating I sustained in this post, I’m almost afraid to admit I’ve still to publish the Gierach interview (on both the Trout Underground and the Writer Underground writer’s blog).

    Though I do plan to excise any references to jellyfish, or Puget Sound.

    Tom (I’ve got a web browser and I’m not afraid to use it) Chandler

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      TC- if it was a beating you received here, it was surely just a dose of tough love. Looking forward to an impending interview with Gierach on the Underground. Do I need to brew a new pot of coffee in anticipation? I think I need to go fishing. Maybe I’ll head to Vancouver, or maybe Mt. Vernon. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to slum it with the little people over here 😉

      1. Like BP, I care about the small people…

        1. Kirk Werner says:

          It’s a good day to be one of the Lollipop Kids.

  4. David G says:

    I thing Gierach uses the Pinkerton’s as henchmen… Ruthless bastards…

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Are the Pinkertons still in business? Oh, I see that they are. Great.

      1. David G says:

        I hope that you can pay them off. I have a friend of a friend that knows a friend who’s brother is in the business of knowing other people who know people that can quell this situation.

        1. Kirk Werner says:

          It’s always good to know someone who knows someone in the business of knowing someone. I’ll take my chances (I’m well armed), but should the need arise, I may have you phone in a friend.

  5. Hey,

    Thanks for the mention and for an enjoyable post.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      The pleasure is mine- I was glad to find your site and review.

  6. cofisher says:

    As usual Kirk, you have, by osmosis, beguiled me into responding to one of your posts. (Do you know what that means?) I enjoyed the review and the opinions of everyone else. Be aware though that a fellow blogger that we both know and shall remain nameless has told me that TU has magical powers that can turn lesser folks into frogs. Of course it could be wishful thinking on his part, hoping that TU is a handsome prince in disguise.

    In defense of JG; read his books or not. He seems like a genuinely nice guy that likes to write, fly fish and earn a living. He has a certain expertise that I certainly don’t have and since he lives down the road from me aways, I feel a connection. Anyone that can put a smile on my face is valuable to me.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Howard, I looked up both “osmosis” and “beguiled” and now feel comfortable addressing your comment. First, I wish I could offer condolences for having once again coerced you, against your better judgement, into leaving a comment. I see this as something no different than the act of fly fishing where I am the (unaccomplished) angler and you are the fish. There are plenty of real bugs (better blogs) out there for you to nibble on, but it is my goal to tempt you into taking an imitation that may result less than favorably for you. Fortunately I employ C&R so you are free to go: no gaff hooks, creels or filet knives. If you don’t wise up, I may catch you again.

      As for TU, I would not underestimate his powers, and admittedly I live in fear of repercussions. Thus, my stockpile of firearms and explosives and canned food and bottled water.

      Re: Mr. Gierach, I envy the man who can write, fly fish, and make a living doing both, and I enjoy his writing muchly. In fact, I’d love to meet him some day. Maybe Cardboard Kirk can come for a visit and you could leave *me* on his front porch with a pen and a note asking for him to autograph my chest.

      (thanks for continually stopping by)

  7. Owl Jones says:

    You’re ok. Just don’t ever review a book on Tenkara ( and be honest about it).

    PS – So you’re from the coast? Cool.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Tenkara? If I ever did review it I’d be honest- no good review is without honesty. But honestly, I know nothing about Japenese cuisine so I won’t likely be offering any reviews on the matter.
      And technically I’m from the southeast, if you live in Alaska.

  8. Steve Z says:

    1coast noun \ˈkōst\1: the land near a shore

    shore noun, often attributive \ˈshȯr\1: the land bordering a usually large body of water;

    While I have no expert opinion on the whole peeing thing, I’m still with Gierach on the use of the term coast. Your issue sounds like geo-elitism and snobbery of the highest order. If he had said, “drove north along the Coast” (note the added capitalization which matches that of your geo-elitist map) I think you’d have a beef. But to quibble on such a small point makes me think you’re hiding the real issue, which is: Why has the State of Washington borrowed so many locale names from other locales?

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Steve, you and Gierach must be from Spokane. There’s the West Coast, the East Coast, the Gulf Coast and a whole bunch of other coasts. The Puget Sound Shoreline is no coast.
      As for Washington pilfering so many pre-established locales, you raise a good question. Likely because by the time we were declared a state, most of the rest of the country already had paved roads and electricity. We were a little late to the party since Lewis and Clark were unsuccessful in finding a waterway from St. Louis all the way to the West Coast (there, I said it again: Coast).

  9. Kirk- so good to hear you’re out and about in the literary world of fly fishing, what with all of the bad weather you’ve had out there. People always ask me which outdoor writers I read, the answer being Kirk Werner, Mike Agneta and Cameron Mortenson. Oh, I’ll give a nod to Rebecca Garlock. Since discovering the blogosphere I’ve pretty well sworn off conventional media. Honestly, the last fly fishing book I read was by Ian Frazier, and my favorite outdoor author is still Patrick McManus. Gierach? I’ll get to it someday, but only after my teeth wear out. I can hear the metophors and similes now, “the swirling whorls of trout, arcing at emerging insects at the twilight, like comets knocking off shooting stars, ephemeral in their efflorescence….”. I’ve taken to reading Theroux and plotting kayak trips with an 8 wt. under the bungies. Your subversive friend.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      FR, always nice of you to drop in for a visit, especially when you come bringing exaggerated comments 😉 I’m with you re: the blogasphere. Not only is the reading free, but it’s interactive and a pretty decent substitute for having an actual social life.

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