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The Lightning Thread: Fishological Moments and The Pursuit of Paradise

by David Profumo

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The Lightning Thread is a uniquely erudite memoir, recounting personal anecdotes from over sixty years of fishing in many countries, enhanced by a plethora of historical and literary commentaries that make it an entertaining read, even for the non-angler. David Profumo is a writer and journalist, with an obsessive love and profound knowledge of fishing. Not just depicting the ‘fishological moments’, but also conveying the sense of peace and contentment that the combination of fishing and nature provides. This memoir is a marvellous homage to a lifetime's passion.

There is much to be enjoyed and learnt from such an expert and lucid narrator that it makes this a really pleasant, humorous and unusual read. There are so many quietly amusing phrases scattered throughout the book, ‘Rod Rage (which requires Angler Management)’, ‘casting is gear change, watercraft resembles road sense’ and ‘herons mince along the shoreline and ignore you like wine waiters’, that even non-anglers are able to understand. The book title refers to the ethereal connection between angler, rod, line, hook and fish, something I have never personally experienced but can appreciate from his various experiences. He talks of ‘fin fever’ as ‘the quintessence of promise, of imminence’, but salmon fishing in Alaska during the great spawning event in summer when they are so abundant, that ‘Fin Fever Central becomes a touch unreal, like an Escher staircase’.

To read and enjoy a book on a subject that I have no experience or knowledge of, in the hands of an articulate and erudite enthusiast, but not feel excluded at any point made the book a pleasure to read. The one occasion where I did wonder if he had lost me became clear on re-reading and the fact that is it is about one that that got away, explains the prose:

I threw it a blind Rootbeer Charlie, it truffled in, ate and ran for the channel edge, just as an overrun blossomed from my new Loop reel, and he popped the tippet.

The author’s obvious enthusiasm, knowledge and eternal optimism is compelling as is his quiet unassuming humour, often at his own expense.

I confess that this is a book, and author that I would never normally have entertained reading, even if it was the last book on the shelf - well maybe then, but you get my drift. The selection was the result of a blind lucky dip in a box of books at the Hunting Raven bookshop in Frome. I admit to minor curiosity due to the author's surname, but I began reading it with quite low expectations. Much as he says about fishing expectations, ‘If nada is your baseline philosophy, some expeditions will agreeably surprise you’.

It is with some surprise that I admit the book exceeded my expectations, it is not just a book about fishing, well it is and there is plenty for fellow anglers to get excited about, but it is also a pleasure to read. Although I don’t feel any compulsion to take up fishing, I feel I can appreciate what others find appealing in the pastime. Personally I still prefer a book to a fishing rod, but it has encouraged me to keep casting out for new discoveries, extending my comfort zone, you can be pleasantly surprised. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fishing and those that appreciate the English language in the hands of a skilled craftsman and are prepared to try something different. ( )
  Matacabras | Apr 23, 2021 |
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