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Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis is part sporting autobiography and part guidebook to life's middle passage. It is filled with the author's love for fly fishing - "this disciplined, beautiful and unessential activity" - and informed by his years as a journalistic observer of American society and politics.
Howell Raines's own experience of the years between forty and fifty will resonate for countless other men who face aging, divorce, new romances, the growth of children and the deaths of friends, mentors and relatives. Raines writes of these transitions with passion and wry humor. "Hear me, my brothers," he says. "Anything is possible in the life of a man if he lives long enough. Even adulthood."
There are lessons here for younger men about the overblown fears of midlife, for women who want a unique glimpse into the male psyche, for middle-aged men who are more at home in the out-of doors than in men's movement seminars.
The author turns to a lifelong passion for fishing as the central metaphor of his book. "I was born in the heart of Dixie and raised in the Redneck Way of Fishing," Raines writes in an affectionate evocation of an Alabama boyhood peopled by larger-than-life outdoorsmen like his uncle Erskine, "the first to bring into our family the news of a higher magic called fly fishing."
This early brush with fly fishing led to a quest for expertise at midlife. Along the way, we meet other avid fishermen, including ex-presidents of the United States and the living legends of the sport. Most memorably, there is Richard C. Blalock, a fisherman of considerable skill, grandiose vanity and high pronouncements.
Raines's friendship with Blalock and their love of fly fishing form the heart of the book, but they are also points of departure. Raines examines his roles as son and brother, husband and lover, journalist, Southerner and friend. Casting into the waters of his own life, the author presents a meditation that is by turns humorous, historical and touching.
This unique book unwinds with the sinuous grace of a master's cast. It flows with the ease of the Rapidan, the stream where Raines and his sons first receive instruction in Blalock's Way. And like the Rapidan itself, this story surprises at every turn. For those who regard fly fishing as frivolous and middle age as a time of trembling, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis will turn every expectation upside down.
Author: Howell Raines
Number of Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperCollins s Inc
Publication Date: 21 Sep 1993