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.
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.