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The River Why Paperback – December 1, 1984
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Top Customer Reviews
Second, the plot isn't about fishing, or living in harmony with nature; it's about a young man's discovering what life really is. The Perfect Schedule - young Gus's plan for getting in the absolute maximum number of hours a day fishing - turns out to be a horrible failure. It takes a long time for Gus to realize something is wrong, including a harrowing adventure with a drowned man and some pretty serous sickness. Now it may be - ahem - that fisherpersons are more stubborn or more stupid, but Duncan has Gus discover that there are things more important than fishing, and that those things can lead to still greater things. And that all of that can make the fishing better.
Third, while Duncan and Gus poke immense amounts of fun at it, this really is a re-casting of Izaak Walton's _The Compleat Fisherman_, although Walton is nearly unreadable and Duncan writes extraordinarily well. This book is also about more or less the same thing as those "witlesses" that Ma brings to grief, although both Gus and the Witlesses would likely deny it. One of Duncan's subtle messages is there, too.
Fourth and last, like a fish taking a fly, when you read this book you will be so dazzled by the gorgeous fly of Duncan's humor, writing and characterization that you will miss the hook and line of his real message until, like Gus, the line of light has you and you feel that gentle tug in your heart.
Beautiful and subtle, hilarious and passionate, charming and amazing, this book is simply an astonishing piece of writing. It's one of my ten or so favorite books, and likely will be one of yours, too.
Besides the main story line, however, the book is excellent for several other reasons. The first is that it has a great supporting cast. Bill Bob, Gus's younger brother, in particular is one of the best child character in any novel I've read, and the rest of his family and neighbors are also developed well. They have great personalities, quirks, and are both insightful and humorous. Duncan also does a tremendous job bringing the environment to life. His descriptions bring the rivers and hills to life and allow the reader to imagine the beauty of the area. It is also a very funny book, so it flies by and is very enjoyable to read.
The River Why isn't a perfect book. Duncan's politics seeped in a little too much in a few instances, which would have been fine except Gus lives in an isolated world with problems to worry about other than the government and it just seems out of place when the Vietnam draft and war come up.Read more ›
I am certain that The River Why would be read and understood 60 different ways by any 50 people who read it. For me, it was a compelling journey of a young man, trying to navigate the waters of understanding between what is true, what is not, and finding that those two extremes don't exist. Old ways of seeing the world didn't work when he was confronted with real life "stuff," like death, love, time, and the creatures with whom we share this little wet planet. Over the course of a year on one of any Coast Range rivers of western Oregon, he discovered the "middle path," a path that made sense to him, brought him peace, brought him understanding, and ultimately brought him love, reunion with his family, and a sense of his place in the universe.
This is a book for those who are drawn to nature and native wisdom as doorways to spiritual insight. It is a book I will give away as gifts to special people whom I believe it could touch as it touched me. Spend 15 minutes with it, and you, too will be "hooked!"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm not sure I ever read a book that was as laugh out loud funny and beautifully spiritual at the same time. This book is about much more than Fly Fishing. Read morePublished 1 month ago by SoniaC
My son had to read this book for an English class. He hated it.Published 1 month ago by Katrina Kluesner
Everything I look for in literature: great storytelling, beautiful prose, spiritually stimulating, a voice that feels real, distinct, creative, sincere. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jeff Album
Good story, a must read if you are into fishing or want to read a nice story that incorporates information about fishing.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Quality said it was "used like new" was certainly not the quality I expected, old and readable, just not what I expected.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I read insatiably. This is my all time favorite book. Stunning, heart warming, thought provoking. Each time I read it, it gets even better. Love.Published 2 months ago by Sally Mifield
I first read this book in 1990 and have been waiting for this book to hit electronic form since I mostly left paper. I've been checking back every 6 months or so and here it is! Read morePublished 2 months ago by shol