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The River Why by David James Duncan

The River Why (1983)

by David James Duncan

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1,1212811,646 (4.18)55
Since its publication by Sierra Club Books more than two decades ago, The River Why has become a classic, standing with Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It as our era’s most widely read fiction about fly-fishing. This captivating and exuberant tale is told by Gus Orviston, an irreverent young fly fisherman and one of the most appealing heroes in contemporary American fiction. Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus decides to strike out on his own, taking refuge in a remote riverbank cabin to pursue his own fly-fishing passion with unrelenting zeal. But instead of finding fishing bliss, Gus becomes increasingly troubled by the degradation of the natural world around him and by the spiritual barrenness of his own life. His desolation drives him on a reluctant quest for self-discovery and meaning -- ultimately fruitful beyond his wildest dreams. Stylistically adept and ambitious in scope, The River Why is a touching and powerful novel by an important voice in American fiction. In a new Afterword written for this twentieth-anniversary edition, David James Duncan reflects on the genesis of his book and on the surprising link between fishing and wisdom.… (more)

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» See also 55 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I think one wouldn’t pick up this book casually. There’ll never be a lot of hype about it and it takes about 100 pages to hook one. And then: oh, it is a good story. Reading a few chapters a time at night before I go to sleep, I am conscious how I come tired to this book as to bed, and leave it with new energy – courage? Laughter? A sense of well-being.

What did I learn from this book? On page 227 in the paperback edition, there’s the story of Nick which seems to me the book in miniature. A certain quiet is needed to tell a story which depends on the listener. Setting and introduction are essential (that’s why the main story takes 100 pages to get going.) We cannot be in a hurry for the story of our lives. It’s worth the read.
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  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
Did enjoy parts of the book, but some of the rambling parts were hard to get through. ( )
  carolfoisset | Jun 30, 2018 |
I was so drawn in by the first half of the book that I had to slow down so I didn't finish it too fast. The second half was more of a bag of bits and pieces and the religiosity when it came, came as a bit of an unwelcome surprise. So not a perfect polished gem of a book - but perhaps that was a good thing - the eclectic mix lets you enjoy what you want and pass by what you don't want. The book is philosophy, not fishing, and absorbing, stimulating and fun. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | May 27, 2018 |
The author can certainly write, but the story-and I am not sure you can call it a story, just didn't work for me. Quirky characters, but not very interesting ones, and a lot of musing on fishing, with some additional musing on life. Maybe if I was into fishing it would have helped, but I have read a number of books where a sport I don't practice has been a main focal point, and still enjoyed the story. ( )
  zmagic69 | Sep 18, 2017 |
This is one book that I've bought over and over again and given to friends. I just loved it. It would be fun to read this again - it has been years - and see if I love it as much as I did originally. I recall the writing to be very witty and clever. ( )
  anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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Having harbored two sons in the waters of her womb, my Mother considers herself something of an authority on human foetuses.
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