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Standing in a River Waving a Stick Hardcover – April 2, 1999

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Gierach, America's favorite trout bum and author of such wise and humorous collections as Dances with Trout and Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing, sets this volume in motion by testing the waters of the philosophical stream: "Lately," he ponders, "I've been thinking about what makes a good fly-fisher, possibly the last fair question of the twentieth century that might actually have an answer." In searching for that answer, he naturally begins to spin his reels, firm in the belief that the solution to any question or problem is to go fishing, "and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be."

Of course, Gierach's life is one extended fishing trip, so he sets out for pools and streams from Montana and Michigan to British Columbia and his own Colorado, musing along the way on subsets of that last fair question like technique versus inner grace, the number of fish you actually catch, the stories you come home with, and the company you choose to cast your lot--and flies--with. As expected with Gierach, the essays of this spirited array are less answers in themselves than provocatively enjoyable journeys through a richly literate and detailed landscape of interesting bugs (the chapter called "Boatmen"), obsessions ("Getting Stuck"), local streams ("Taking It Personally"), and even a memorial service held off until the fish were biting ("Jordan River"). In the end, Gierach is left where he began, "certain that on the day I become a truly sublime fly-fisher, all my failings will be overshadowed and all my demons will swim under rocks and stay there until I go away." Until that day comes, he'll just have to take solace from the way he continues to hook us pleasurably on the natural resources of his own prose. --Jeff Silverman

From Publishers Weekly

Everything from bears to the mysterious ways of ornery trout comes under the attention of Gierach in this lighthearted collection of essays, which is less concerned with the craft of fly-fishing than with the gestalt. Gierach (Another Lousy Day in Paradise, etc.) does hold forth on tying flies, watching bugs and other aspects of the fisherman's art, particularly the equipment. Fly-fishing in remote areas calls for packing such necessities as an emergency fire-starting kit, a sweater and a coffeepot. For Gierach, fishing in the backcountry often leads "to excuses to stage an elaborate coffee break in a stunningly beautiful place miles from the nearest road, which makes the coffeepot as crucial as the fly rod." He is at his most interestingAand interestedAwhen he turns into a riverbank philosopher. In the end, getting the fly to the fish may be a goal but not necessarily the essence of fishing, notes Gierach, who admits that he prefers to eat wild red meat and fowlAeven though fish is brain food "and I could use the help." Readers won't find Gierach's favorite streams and ponds (he deliberately doesn't tell) or how to tie a #20 Olive Parachute, but they will get a folksy earful on how fishing is similar to the way a dog follows its master "with nothing much in mind except to see what's gonna happen next."
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (April 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684824256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684824253
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,373,987 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Once again, John Gierach writes antother book that is entertaining and a pleasure to read. After finishing, I start to anticipate the next collection of essays. Reading this book will cause you to read the rest of his works. GAURANTEED!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. WHITTEN on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This guy is a classic self-indulgent leftover Hippie. But he captures the essence of flyfishing, and the outdoors in general, in a most compelling way. His life view is a delightful antidote to the urbanized, "Orvisized", SUV'ed approach to the sport (or art form) called flyfishing. I REALLY enjoy reading him (though I would prefer that he not be allowed to vote).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By william ratledge on July 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
when I got the book and started reading I could not put in down. It is the beast book I have Read in a long time. i try to keep up on all the fishing books and this one is top of the line, The man is a true fly-fisherman and it shows in his book. I liked it so much i went out and bought more to give to my fishing buddys. keep up the good work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Emma Lengwin on August 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John Gierach has done it again. This book isn't just about fishing-it's about life. Using fly fishing as his premise, the author shares his philosophy of life with his readers. Granted his answer to any and all of life's problems can be found while fishing. The bigger the problem, the longer you fish.
This book is laced with enough information to make you a first rate fly fisherman and to understand the every day business of life as well.
Glenn Wolf's pen and ink illustrations are simple yet exquisite.
Perfect gift for anyone remotely interested in fly fishing . . . it goes much further than your favorite fishing hole.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Gierach extends some more fly fishing (life's) wit from his last writing (Another Lousy day in Paradise. You read about your own experiences in each chapter. Any one who has ever float tubed has dragged a line across some lake in mid afternoon, hoping to "hang a real pig".
You will want to read Gierach's other books to learn more about his supporting cast. Like his previous writings, these real life characters surround John in his many journeys from flyfishing to pheasant hunting or just hanging round the local Lyon's fly shop.
When the fish quit rising, sit back, grab a Gierach and start a new journey.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Terry on August 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I enjoy the author's often irreverant humor but along with that is a lot of useful, practical advice. I've often said that we give fish too much credit. Mr. Gierach points out that fish are being taken at the same time by fishermen using significantly different patterns and the like. Through the humor you develop the feel of what is really important and what really isn't so impotant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John shows us once again why he is the voice of many fly fishermen. Thanks for the great read -catch his other books they are as good !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a flyfishing wanna-be from the midwest who purchased this book for a little cold weather diversion. It proves the point that fishing (like so many hobbys) is an individual sport that can be appreciated and enjoyed regardless of how, how often, where, or with who. Just follow your passion and enjoy the journey.
I always enjoy a good fishing story and this book has many. Beyond the story, I enjoyed the insights into the subculture of flyfishermen, fishing guides, and small town folks fighting to keep their way of life.
Lastly, the book provides interesting insight on a differing view of wildlife conservation. This is a complicated issue.
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