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At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman Hardcover – March 25, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These 20 magazine columns-most from Field & Stream-follow Gierach's year of outings in Northern Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, and include some of his best strokes of style since Sex, Death and Flyfishing. Each travelogue plucks the required notes of Gierach's angling country song formula: a conversational, self-deprecating voice; good-humored reporting from the Eden streams of the West, appreciation for his local angling fraternity. Fishing-is-the-antidote-to-real-life is the axis of every Gierach collection, and several of these stories are convincing as well as entertaining. The angling reader already understands perfectly well the real reason Gierach is perched on the back of an ATV with a Labrador retriever riding through heavy May mud to reach remote ranchland ponds. As Gierach gets older, his reach into his angling hat is slower but he pulls out better rabbits: "If you wanted a fish that could sip white wine and discuss Italian poetry, you'd look for a trout. If you need a ditch dug, you'd hire a carp." The title reference is to a streamside marker dedicated to a deceased conservationist that Gierach seems to acknowledge is the epitaph for anyone who, like himself, spends his life in the thrall of something as gloriously inconsequential as fly-fishing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The author of numerous fishing classics offers his first book of linked essays.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743229924
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743229920
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Gierach is the author of several previous books, including At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman, Standing in a River Waving a Stick, and Dances with Trout. His work has appeared in Gray's Sporting Journal, Field & Stream, where he is a contributing writer, and Fly Rod & Reel, where he is a columnist. He also writes columns for the Longmont (CO) Daily Times-Call and the monthly Redstone Review. He lives in Lyons, Colorado.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Former Rater on April 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Gierach has published another fine compilation of his marvelous short stories. The craft of writing is never easy and crafting short stories is far more difficult than blathering on for page after page in a mighty tome.
I could easily read this in an hour or two, but I'm reading these stories one-at-a-time because I want to enjoy each new story in its own space. I guess I'm savoring this book as if it was some fine wine or a great pastry...you simply don't gulp it down.
Thanks again for your fine writing, Mr. Gierach. The art of writing short fly fishing stories is a difficult one to master and Mr. Prosek, Mr. Leeson, Ms. Proulx, Mr. Luce, Mr. Babb, Mr. Proper, Mr. McGuane and Nick and Mari Lyons have all made the grade. I won't try to rank any of these fine contemporary authors (though Mr. Prosek's watercolors and Mari Lyons' illustrations (not all watercolors) add a fine edge to the text in their works).
Mr. McGuane notes on the slipcover that Mr. Gierach out fished him the last time they were on the stream together and that he would have been willing to give Mr. Gierach faint praise (if only to even the score), but Mr. McGuane - an honest fisherman (apologies to Sparse) - correctly rates the quality of this fine work (who would put a bad review on the slipcover, anyway?).
I own all of Mr. Gierach's works and this is one of his best. Literate, humorous, and a nice guide for those of us who are a bit younger . . .we can see how a little more living helps hone an individual's perception of the important things in life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Perez on January 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read almost all of Gierach's books and this is another great collection of fishing stories told in his naturally witty style. He's still fishing with his old friends like A.K. Best. He still writes about his affinity for bamboo rods, carp, grayling, bass ponds, Green Drakes and the good ol' days. He still writes mostly about fishing in Colorado, and the neighboring states around his home. And, his writing always contains a slew of witty Zen philosophy one-liners and this one is no different. What's new in this book is his explanation of his move from his old cabin along the St. Vrain River to his new home three miles away. His old cabin was a pretty common subject in his past books and it was a little sad to hear about it's demise. He also updates the reader about his new work in the local paper the "Redstone Review" which his new girlfriend publishes. If you didn't know any better you would think that the good ol' "Trout Bum" was settling down a little and getting a little sentimental in his later years.
Well, whatever you want to call John Gierach, "trout bum", or "avid fisherman" there is no doubt that he is a fine fisherman. He writes about fly fishing in a no nonsense kind of way. He doesn't sugar coat anything. You get a meat and potatoes image of fly fishing that's wry, funny, sentimental, and informative. As a Midwesterner, I really relate to his blue collar style, which is one of the reasons why Gierach continues to be my favorite fly fishing author. You're more apt to read fishing stories that involve old beat up trucks rather than fancy SUV's. If this is your first Gierach book and you like his style, I suggest you also read "Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders", which is a compilation of his favorite stories from his previous books.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By gfweb on September 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is amazing that John Gierach can keep putting out interesting books on essentially the same topic without getting very repetitious. This is another compilation of essays in a long series chronicling his fishing life and the issues that have impact upon it.
His first book, Trout Bum, established his persona...a trout-obsessed fly-fisher who puts everything in life second to the sport. Whether or not this is actually true we don't know, but I suspect that it is pretty much accurate. Unlike most of the bums that I've known(ski bums, golf bums, bass bums) Gierach has managed to make a living from his obsession. I guess that this is a good thing for him...it certainly is good for his readers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Warneka on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I very much enjoy John Gierach's writings and this is one of his best works. I learned much about life and fly-fishing reading this book ... and can think of no higher praise.

Highly recommended.
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By WYfish on February 11, 2008
Format: Audio CD
In years past, I have read several of John Gierach's books. Out of all the fishing books I have read, his thoughts and writing lingered year after year. I picked up his audiobook, At the grave of the Unknown Fisherman, for a 16 hour drive across Wyoming, Utah and Neveda and another 16 hours back home. He (and John McPhee) were companions of the best kind, feeling a connection as if you'd been his fishing buddy for many years. Without a doubt hugely interesting, knowledgable, humorous and uplifting. The book contains philosphies to clear your busy life, realizing the comfort of the fisherman's trance, re-discovering the true fisherman in you and references to improve your fishing skills. The writer lives in CO and writes about his intimate knowledge of his home water; yet, many of his stories are about fishing WY waters, my home water. He includes fishing experiences in PA, Missouri and Canada. His descriptors are so real and grounded, you can almost close yours eyes and feel the wind pressing against your back. You find yourself driving along unknowlingly ducking gently as your subconscious imagines a heavily weighed fly zip past your ear. This is one for anyone's fly fishing library.
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