“Haunted by Waters is a landmark book…[Browning’s] brilliant displays of research and erudition in chapters on Old World and New World angling traditions and American Transcendentalism are nonpareil. So, too, is his comprehension regarding the art of fly-fishing in its entirety. What’s more, no one has ever written a literary history of fly-fishing, even a brief one, with more style or insight.”
“Many anglers can't seem to get enough of their sport, so they make artificial flies and read a lot about fishing when they're not streamside. Browning's book contemplates the strong attraction of this revered pastime and thoughtfully considers the literature that it has inspired…. Chapters that can be categorized as ecocriticism, the new term for environmental literary criticism, are interspersed with ‘Interludes,’ wherein Browning, a devoted fly fisherman, offers first-person confessions and observations about his joyful obsession. Recommended for all large fishing collections.”
“Mark Browning has pioneered the serious literary study of American prose centered on fly fishing—and he has linked it convincingly, admirably, to the major traditions of nature writing that run from Thoreau through Barry Lopez. Bravo!”
“In this thoughtful, penetrating…look at the literature of fly-fishing, the author notes that fishermen who write can be likened to our ancient ancestors,`who blazoned portrayals of the hunt on the walls of … caves’…. In scrutinizing Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and his story ‘Big Two-Hearted River' … Browning finds the most profound portrayals of fishing as an`activity where life and death meet and stare at each other.’”
Four essential questions: Why does one fish? How should one properly fish? What relations are created in fishing? And what effects does fishing have on the future? Haunted by Waters is a self-examination by the author as he constructs his own narrative and tries to answer these questions for himself. But it is also a thorough examination of the answers he uncovers in the course of reading what's been written on the subject.
As his own story unfolds, Mark Browning analyzes angling literature from the Bible to Norman Maclean, always bringing his inquiry back to the same source: the enigma of this sport.
Haunted by Waters is an exploration of the apparent compulsion of those who fish not only to read about the sport, but to write about it as well. Mark Browning's personal account as a fly fisherman and his perspective as a critic make him uniquely qualified to navigate these waters.
Mark Browning is a teacher and writer at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.
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