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The Earth Is Enough: Growing Up in a World of Flyfishing, Trout & Old Men (The Pruett Series) Paperback – February 1, 1996


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The Earth Is Enough: Growing Up in a World of Flyfishing, Trout & Old Men (The Pruett Series) + On the Spine of Time: A Flyfisher's Journey Among Mountain People, Streams & Trout (The Pruett Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: The Pruett Series
  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Pruett Publishing Company (February 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871088746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871088741
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

""An extraordinary account of the sustaining powers of landscape, of the stewardship of private places, and of those rare people in life who, by their refusal to teach, become our most enligtening teachers. A haunting book, beautiful and funny and sad, written with enormous warmth and grace. ""  ---Ted Leeson


""It is a grand true story and its wonderful old men are classic American characters.""
     ---Annie Dillard

From the Author

It was shortly after reading Harry Middleton's The Earth is Enough that I made the decision to give up trout fishing. Since fishing is one of the things my life has been largely about, perhaps this might indicate the vitality, resonance and power of this book.

I discovered Middleton later than most, a function of my suspicion of all things new, especially books, and especially squared books of fiction or books with fishing in them. I was aware of this author, but put off reading him, a gesture not unlike circling a sleeping rattler for several years.

Now, thinking back, I don't recall exactly what moved me to try. Maybe it was the quotation at the book's beginning by Loren Eiseley, someone I profoundly love and respect. Middleton's own preface was good, too. So, I thought, one page couldn't hurt anything, what was I afraid of? A page it would be then. It was a good one that soon became two, then three, then a blurred rhythm of reading and turning, turning and reading. Everything was there as it should be, the timeless craft of the old, arm in arm with the freshness of a new vision draped around the fundamental constants of life, death, love, God and family.

This is a book about love for all things that matter. In this case, one of those things is a simple fish, brook trout to be specific, brook trout living in Starlight Creek which runs through a poor Ozark farm. It is a book about a boy, three men, and a dog; it is the story of youth and age, and of learning. Like A River Runs Through It, this tale is based on fact, shaped by fiction, and the grace of it comes from the seamless combination of the two. Unlike MacLean's book, which is inevitably ruled by an abiding Scottish sternness, Middleton's work is something of an organic loose cannon, the texture plush and full of real surprises. In common with A River Runs Through It, the elements of humanity, time and place are made rich and true and enervating through genuine passion. Middleton's passion is manifested through intelligence, sensitivity and compassion to create a profound ode to the earth and to mankind, governed by respect, gentleness and humor. At all the appropriate moments this story will make you weep convulsively, burst out laughing, and cause you to ache with longing. The sadness is that these qualities certainly contributed to the doom of their creator. Passion and soul, the dual sources of everything valuable and meaningful, are not very hot commodities in our largely puritanical, Calvinistic, money-driven republic. In a society like ours, layered with ennui, greed, aggressive ignorance, dispassionate, poor-quality living, all soaked in a gooey solution of snake-belly-grade voyeurism a la Oprah et al., the sensitive frequently don't make it.

Shortly after reading all of Middleton's books the first time around, I called Jim Pruett, publisher of this current edition (whose urging to read them in the first place I ignored) because I wanted badly to get off a congratulatory letter to Mr. Middleton and I needed his address. Too late, Jim said, he just passed away. I'm only going to whine for a minute because, as Jim Harrison is fond of advising whiners, Go tell it to Anne Frank. To which I might add Dylan Thomas, or Rilke, or Calvin Kentfield, or Ray Carver, or Richard Hugo, or Don Carpenter, or Richard Brautigan, etc., etc. Self-pity won't get you a packet of ketchup at the cheapest restaurant on earth. But it still hurts to know that Harry Middleton rode the back of a garbage truck every night during the wee hours to put groceries on his family's table. All too frequently, in addition to endless money problems, many artists have difficult personalities and/or drinking problems, three omnipresent occupational speed bumps, any or all of which can be fatal.

At the end of this beautiful book, a young Harry Middleton takes a break from school to go back and visit the place where the story takes place. Standing on the hillside in the rain, he reflects:

All three men were there . . . . They were of the earth, totally, completely. I stood in the rain for a long time, just looking and trying not to think at all, for I had no wish to make judgments, nor to seek answers, nor harvest messages. It was only important that I had come one last time to this place, a boy's sanctuary. His solace. His home.

How dull the stones looked in the rain against the black-browed hills, the dark sky. Only here in these mountains, here with these old men, amid the creek, the trout, the natural world, had I ever ceased to feel alone. I recalled those winter nights on the roof of the farmhouse when we waited for the geese to come overhead and I'd felt like a giant nautilus adrift in a boundless sea. Yet how contented had I felt, even in that reverie, for all I was, all I would be, was inexorably with me there in my chambered shell. Albert, Emerson, Norwell, Elias Wonder, the wildness of the mountains, all of it was with me, and the weight of it all, my time here, set my course, marked my way. So it was still; so it would always be.

Russell Chatham Livingston, Montana 1995


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Customer Reviews

More than a fly fishing book, it's a love story (for nature.)
gearheadguru
Sure impressed me, so much so that immediately sent the book off to my son the minute I finished it.
hojacker@imcnet.net
This book is extremely well written in a descriptive, intelligent manner.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on April 5, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the preface to a later book, the late Harry Middleton said he was asked by an young student how much of this books were true. His answer was, "More than I want."
This is the story of a young boy growing up in a military family, stationed at a staging area during the Vietnam War. When one of his friends is killed - and Harry badly injured - playing with a grenade they found in the jungle, Harry is packed off to his grandfather, a subsistence farmer in the Ozarks of Arkansas. There, with his grandfather, granduncle and the old American Indian, Elias Wonder, Harry is healed, not just of the trauma of seeing his friend disappear in a "pink mist" but healed as well of a great deal of other things he may not have known ailed him.
As Harry learns the rhythms of the land and the mysteries of Starlight Creek from his grandfather and the irascible Elias Wonder, he grows and the reader grows with him. Like David James Duncan's _The River Why_, this is a book about growing up and coming of age, and flyfishing - that "hopeless addiction to trout and the push of water against your legs" - is simply the author's narrative tool.
Harry must have been a more patient and willing teenager than I was, or perhaps time has colored over Harry's experience, but there is nothing else to criticize. Beautifully written, exceptionally well told, full of life, sadness, humor, death and understanding.
And if flyfishing became an addiction for Harry, that was to haunt him in his later years, well, he was warned and in any event there are far worse fates.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Booth on October 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've read a good number of books that deal with the subject of fly-fishing, streams, trout and country living, but I've never read one that makes me see the images of my home; home stream; home woods; home folk, quite the way Middleton does; he is superb.
Middleton's pen works just like the streams and life he writes about; it wanders, meanders, gurgles, sprits, colors and calls: beckons you to come along - regardless of whether you see where you're going or not. You will gladly follow and are generously rewareded for your efforts. Middleton is such an artist in delivery, that one must be patient in order to see the full palette of his work. It is well worth the wait.
The captivation experienced within the color and tale found in Middleton's work, is only the lure for the more meaningful and deep-rooted feelings he exposes and we try so desperately to hide from.
The meaning of words like: home, place, belonging, passion, love, devotion, loyalty and the like are all brought to clarity through Middleton's pen.
Middleton pens the human condition into hues and shades we canot overlook; cannot run from; they envelop you and gracefully force you to look deep into the soul that makes us who we truly are.
This book may be best read after living the first 50 years of ones life; else it's wisdom would most likely be lost. But I surely wish all would read it - at least the first time - early in life, then pick it up again later on; read it again, and drink in the full meaning: drink long and full. If only the simple wisdoms pointed out here could be learned early on ... life would be far more enjoyed, than simply endured.
The rest of Middleton's books are equally salient and soulful reminders of what truly matters in life. And chorus the statement eloquently posited here, "The Earth is Enough"; take care of it, there's only one. When it is gone, it's ALL GONE.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Perez on February 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Middleton served up all the emotions, from the joys of life and nature to the sorrows of death. I pretty much love all books about fly fishing. This one will definitely be added to my "for the love of fly fishing" list. My favorite quote from the book is the one by Uncle Albert, who said, "Take up the fly rod, and the shotgun, and before you know it, you're an outcast, a social leper, rejected by your family, despised by your neighbors, mistrusted by your community....The final question is, should any man turn his back on ambition, profit, security, and a parking place in the city, just to pursue a fish?" That quote pretty much captures the life of Uncle Albert and Grandfather Emerson who were tasked with raising their young relative in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Add a little influence from their half crazy Native American neighbor and you understand where the title comes from. The old fellas loved and praised the earth like Native Americans do. My only complaint with this book is that it was almost too heavy with sadness and I don't handle death well. I much preferred his book, "On the Spine of Time", which was lighter and funnier.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
I didn't know anything about this book before ordering. It came up as a suggestion on my Amazon account as a result of my buying several other flyfishing related books. This book is extremely well written in a descriptive, intelligent manner. Even if you have never fly fished in your life, the narrative is inviting, contemplative, warm, intelligent and heart warming. I read alot. This book is high on my list of all time for best book ever read. I encourage you to experience the pleasure and tears this book produces...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Colorado Sue on November 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book has it all. It's funny, touching, beautifully written, easy to read, contains life lessons - what more could you want? And I don't even fly fish!!! Buy it, read it, keep it, re-read it. I first read it years ago, and keep buying copies as gifts.
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