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Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

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Howell Raines has gone fly fishing with presidents of the United States and legends of the sport, as well as relatives, childhood friends, and his two sons. Casting deep into the waters of his tumultuous and momentous life -- his storied career at the New York Times, his painful divorce, his seven-year feud with his father, his memorable friendship with fisherman/philosoph Howell Raines has gone fly fishing with presidents of the United States and legends of the sport, as well as relatives, childhood friends, and his two sons. Casting deep into the waters of his tumultuous and momentous life -- his storied career at the New York Times, his painful divorce, his seven-year feud with his father, his memorable friendship with fisherman/philosopher Richard C. Blalock -- Raines offers his now-classic meditation on the "disciplined, beautiful, and unessential activity" of fly fishing and the challenges and opportunities of middle age. A witty and profound celebration of life's transitions and the serene pleasures of the outdoors, Raines's memories and observations offer wisdom for the younger man, comfort for the older man, and rare insight for women into the often puzzling male psyche. "Hear me, my brothers," Raines says. "Anything is possible in the life of a man if he lives long enough. Even adulthood."


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Howell Raines has gone fly fishing with presidents of the United States and legends of the sport, as well as relatives, childhood friends, and his two sons. Casting deep into the waters of his tumultuous and momentous life -- his storied career at the New York Times, his painful divorce, his seven-year feud with his father, his memorable friendship with fisherman/philosoph Howell Raines has gone fly fishing with presidents of the United States and legends of the sport, as well as relatives, childhood friends, and his two sons. Casting deep into the waters of his tumultuous and momentous life -- his storied career at the New York Times, his painful divorce, his seven-year feud with his father, his memorable friendship with fisherman/philosopher Richard C. Blalock -- Raines offers his now-classic meditation on the "disciplined, beautiful, and unessential activity" of fly fishing and the challenges and opportunities of middle age. A witty and profound celebration of life's transitions and the serene pleasures of the outdoors, Raines's memories and observations offer wisdom for the younger man, comfort for the older man, and rare insight for women into the often puzzling male psyche. "Hear me, my brothers," Raines says. "Anything is possible in the life of a man if he lives long enough. Even adulthood."

30 review for Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    This book was recommended to me by my brother, an avid and skilled fly-fisherman, as I picked up the sport again near my midlife. I found a copy on Better World Books and found it to be a well written, entertaining memoir. As a mediocre fly-fisherman, I found it reassuring to see Howell Raines struggle through many of the same mistakes I have. Written with humor, his personality shines through for much of the book (whether you enjoy the personality is a personal opinion) and he succeeds admirabl This book was recommended to me by my brother, an avid and skilled fly-fisherman, as I picked up the sport again near my midlife. I found a copy on Better World Books and found it to be a well written, entertaining memoir. As a mediocre fly-fisherman, I found it reassuring to see Howell Raines struggle through many of the same mistakes I have. Written with humor, his personality shines through for much of the book (whether you enjoy the personality is a personal opinion) and he succeeds admirably in describing his personal trials with midlife and how fly-fishing offers some repose from the difficult, frustrating and sad moments that entailed. The book waivered for me at the end when it turned to a rememberance of his angling friend (it is a wonderful rememberance), but it shifted away from the direction at the start of the book. With that said, there were some memorable moments: the description of setting the hook on a smallmouth bass in the Boundry Waters is one of the best "that's what fishing is all about" pieces of writing I have ever read; the description of Harper's Ferry (and the included description by Thomas Jefferson) were spot on; the section about the birth of catch and release angling, from the trout fishing side and the trophy bass fishing side, was fascinating. The information about general fly-fishing knowledge (entymology, habitat, fish habits) was great for an introduction to the sport, plus, even though I practice catch and release, I'm half tempted to hang on to the book if I ever need to properly fillet a pike.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jay Wright

    I have always found it interesting that so many fly fishermen have the leftist political persuasion. First Raines attacks t Reagan, Hoover, and Bush as only being concerned for the rich. I find this interesting because the sport of fly fishing is the most elitist sport going. The cost to an avid fly fisherman or woman is no small amount of change. The fact is that if you are able to go to some of the best streams you doubtfully are in a six figure income. Next, it is a rich man's sport because y I have always found it interesting that so many fly fishermen have the leftist political persuasion. First Raines attacks t Reagan, Hoover, and Bush as only being concerned for the rich. I find this interesting because the sport of fly fishing is the most elitist sport going. The cost to an avid fly fisherman or woman is no small amount of change. The fact is that if you are able to go to some of the best streams you doubtfully are in a six figure income. Next, it is a rich man's sport because you need a considerable amount of leisure time to get good at it. Finally, the average fly fisherman is concerned with making streams exclusive. They do this designating a stream catch and release or by opposing hatchery trout. Both, bring in the general populace. However, I have fished many of the same streams and Raines provides good descriptions and some insight. It is in a readable style. I keep fish on occasion. How many fish are injured in catching them? Plus if a stream becomes over populated, the fish are smaller. Letting elitist snobs (from the right or the left) take over our streams is a mistake.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    The title of this book had me wondering if it would be one long diatribe of hokey, existential whining with some fly fishing thrown in, but boy was I wrong. I would argue that the title isn't even appropriate. It is more of the story of a guy and his good friend/mentor who got him into fly fishing and the time they spent together. Very sentimental and extremely well-written. The title of this book had me wondering if it would be one long diatribe of hokey, existential whining with some fly fishing thrown in, but boy was I wrong. I would argue that the title isn't even appropriate. It is more of the story of a guy and his good friend/mentor who got him into fly fishing and the time they spent together. Very sentimental and extremely well-written.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Enjoyable, but perhaps mis-titled.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rory Eisele

    I really liked this book. I probably identified with the author too much as fishing grounds my life as well. Interesting book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    After letting this excellent opus sit on my shelves for years, I finally got around to reading it and was enthralled by it! So much wisdom and good writing. This will most likely join the list of "must re-read every few years" works. And now I want to get out my fly fishing stuff and play with it. From Amazon: Howell Raines has gone fly fishing with presidents of the United States and legends of the sport, as well as relatives, childhood friends, and his two sons. Casting deep into the waters of After letting this excellent opus sit on my shelves for years, I finally got around to reading it and was enthralled by it! So much wisdom and good writing. This will most likely join the list of "must re-read every few years" works. And now I want to get out my fly fishing stuff and play with it. From Amazon: Howell Raines has gone fly fishing with presidents of the United States and legends of the sport, as well as relatives, childhood friends, and his two sons. Casting deep into the waters of his tumultuous and momentous life - his storied career at the New York Times, his painful divorce, his seven-year feud with his father, his memorable friendship with fisherman/philosopher Richard C. Blalock - Raines offers his now-classic meditation on the "disciplined, beautiful, and unessential activity" of fly fishing and the challenges and opportunities of middle age. A witty and profound celebration of life's transitions and the serene pleasures of the outdoors, Raines's memories and observations offer wisdom for the younger man, comfort for the older man, and rare insight for women into the often puzzling male psyche. "Hear me, my brothers," Raines says. "Anything is possible in the life of a man if he lives long enough. Even adulthood."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    While there are certainly some obviously editable parts to this book, I am glad that I read this semi-magical memoir which is part fly-fishing primer and part mid-life chronicle. At its best, there are simple yet enchanting descriptions of some of America's best fishing streams and the beautiful fish that swim in them. At it's worst, there is political snobbery that, I suppose, is to be expected from a former Washington journalist. Though keeping that in mind the author did a fairly good job of While there are certainly some obviously editable parts to this book, I am glad that I read this semi-magical memoir which is part fly-fishing primer and part mid-life chronicle. At its best, there are simple yet enchanting descriptions of some of America's best fishing streams and the beautiful fish that swim in them. At it's worst, there is political snobbery that, I suppose, is to be expected from a former Washington journalist. Though keeping that in mind the author did a fairly good job of not being too self indulgent. The book is well written though there are plenty of examples of poor flow and childish themes which should have served to mold the book and then left in the rough draft. There are many touching moments in this book but I appreciate that they felt real and not flowery or overly emotional. We learn about the author's friends and family without any pity or too much sadness and with just the right amount of humor. The author did a fine job of combining fishing lessons with etymology and brief histories of fly-fishing. While certainly not all encompassing, it was appropriate background information for the people the book focused on and encouraged my interest in learning more on my own. I could have done without a lot of the political commentary but I did find it interesting when he touched on the political side of the environmental theme of the book. It's quite fascinating and somewhat alarming to know how deep political ties can alter the literal landscape of America. Will I re-read this book and keep it on my bookshelf? Probably not. Will I recommend it to other fishing enthusiasts and remember that I enjoyed my time with this book? Absolutely.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    This turned out much better than I expected. Raines knows, importantly, what not to talk about, and he avoids heavy musings on the sorts of questions you associate with midlife crises, yet he's revealing at the same time. In what I expected to be clunky insertions, he includes sections on famous anglers he's spent time with (such as Ray Scott and Bob Clouser) and presidents who fished. These chapters serve to further explorations about some of his key themes, and rather than being simple biograph This turned out much better than I expected. Raines knows, importantly, what not to talk about, and he avoids heavy musings on the sorts of questions you associate with midlife crises, yet he's revealing at the same time. In what I expected to be clunky insertions, he includes sections on famous anglers he's spent time with (such as Ray Scott and Bob Clouser) and presidents who fished. These chapters serve to further explorations about some of his key themes, and rather than being simple biographical snapshots, they're fascinating looks into the psyches, fishing habits, and the relationships between the two. This is a fine read, worth it for fishing stories and historical overviews, but also for the autobiographical slant.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    This is an autobiographical analysis of the author's midlife crisis due to age and how he coped by engaging in fly fishing. This a good read for anyone, male or female. This is an autobiographical analysis of the author's midlife crisis due to age and how he coped by engaging in fly fishing. This a good read for anyone, male or female.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Introspective and insightful

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan Ryan

    Enjoyable read - some real insights into flyfishing and the male psyche. A little dogmatic in his catch-and-release superiority, but truly fun to read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nick Woodall

    Good. Predictable. Occasionally fun and interesting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Davis

    So far I like hearing about the author's family and fishing background. I could do without his smart-aleck digs on conservatives. So far I like hearing about the author's family and fishing background. I could do without his smart-aleck digs on conservatives.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diener

    Decent book. Enjoyed the parts about fishing with his sons and his buddy Dick Blalock. Could've done without the author's digressions into recipes and esoteric fly fishing issues. Decent book. Enjoyed the parts about fishing with his sons and his buddy Dick Blalock. Could've done without the author's digressions into recipes and esoteric fly fishing issues.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ron Sitton

    Very interesting read. Liked the fish stories and recipes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    More people need to know about this book. I'm not sure why it didn't catch (pun intended) on. More people need to know about this book. I'm not sure why it didn't catch (pun intended) on.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephen H.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Green

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brent Trigg

  20. 5 out of 5

    BKL

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lan Evenson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tarek Ammar

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brad Traylor

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hunter Walton

  29. 4 out of 5

    Delway Burton

  30. 4 out of 5

    Guillermo Pablo Mendoza

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