From Publishers Weekly
In the rarified world of bamboo fly rod making, names like Ed Payne and Sam Carlson, and their progeny, acolytes and apprentices, stand like giants, casting long shadows that stretch from the dawn of modern American fly-fishing in the late 19th century to the present-day reality of multimillion dollar "cabins" along the Bitterroot River valley in Montana. In this beautifully crafted, utterly engaging work, Black wraps his own personal journey through the contemporary world of bamboo fly rod making in a sweeping, meticulous telling of the history of American fly-fishing. With admirable dexterity, he manages to make the story a metaphor for a great deal of how American social and commercial culture has evolved over the past 150 years. Black indelibly etches a story of peerless craftsmen laboring toward perfection, sparring all the while with corporate interest, fickle customers and the inevitable diminishing of their own inspiration. A must for any committed angler, this is a worthwhile read for those who have never rolled out of bed before dawn, pulled on a pair of rubber waders and ventured into the ice-cold waters of some trout stream in search of that perfect catch. (Aug.)
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Black celebrates the bamboo fly rod, finding in this special piece of fishing tackle a metaphor for an offshoot of the American dream: what he calls the "pursuit of perfection" in craftsmanship. The text combines a history of bamboo rod development--from -nineteenth-century craftsmen through such recent rod makers as Hoagy Carmichael Jr. (son of the songwriter)--with a broader narrative in which bamboo craftsmanship becomes part of a larger story involving the cold war, the growth of outdoor retailing companies (Abercrombie and Fitch, Orvis, L. L. Bean), and the movement of the tackle-manufacturing industry from the U.S. to overseas (rod bamboo, it turns out, is only available in China). Some readers may be disappointed to find that there is relatively little actual fishing in these pages, but Black is after, well . . . bigger fish. In the manner of Mark Kurlansky writing about salt or cod, he finds in the simple bamboo fishing rod a means to express not only the essence of fly-fishing but also the unquenchable spirit of individual craftsmen. John RowenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved