Paul Schullery - The Fishing Life

Skyhorse Publishing $24.95
ISBN 978-1-61608-838-5

I can’t think of any books on fishing by this author that aren’t a compulsory purchase and if you are a trout fisherman and haven’t read his book The Rise, you should be ashamed of yourself. The Fishing Life is described as anthology of articles and anecdotes, and the revelation that many of the pieces have been published elsewhere would have led me to pass it by did Paul’s reputation as one of the most imaginative writers on fishing speak for itself. Some of the pieces have been re-written or extended, new ones have been added to give continuity and there are many wonderful illustrations by Marsha Karle.

If you are a fan of this author, you will know what to expect. Unlike so many compilations which include previously published work, The Fishing Life isn’t a pot boiler, and unlike the majority of works which aspire to the genre of fishing literature, it neither drowns in a sea of allusions, nor implodes under the pressure of its own pomposity – in fact, it does exactly what it says on the tin and makes you think. The reason The Fishing Life doesn’t fall into any of the many traps that await philosophical books on angling is because the author puts the fishing first and the thinking afterwards and this particular title puts him up there with the only other person who has ever got away with it, Ted Leeson, which is a high recommendation indeed.

If you are new to Schullery and you come across The Fishing Life in a bookshop and want an idea of where it is going to take you, then I suggest you find a quiet corner and read ‘Should Anglers Re-invent Themselves?’ to get some idea of where you are going to be taken if you put your cash on the counter. This chapter condenses into half a dozen pages a consideration of our future that others have wasted entire books debating – the fact that the author will leave you in a wild surmise is one of one of the many reasons for buying the book. There are no certainties in this sport and The Fishing Life will not only make you appreciate what we have, but start every reader thinking about how to preserve it for the future.

Review 23rd June 2013