Tag Archives: book review

TOPFLOOD

BOOK REVIEW: Top of the Flood

There’s a certain mindset I’ve come to expect from Texans based upon those I’ve run across. If I had to explain it, it’s something along the lines of,  “We need to disassemble this 10 ton truck and walk it piece by piece across the length of the panhandle? Let’s get started.”

Tosh Brown has that in him, as evidenced in his revelation that he left behind his University of Texas business degree and a job in commercial real estate to shoot pictures. “Ditch the tie, get a camera and go on to be one of the most acclaimed fly fishing photographers of the past two decades? Let’s get started.”

He was certainly that way when he teamed up with me to publish our photo-essay book [shameless-self promotion alert: The Blitz: Fly Fishing The Atlantic Migration]. On our trips together, I learned a few other things about Tosh. First and foremost, he is a family man, proving that you can reconcile creative pursuits with raising kids in a functional manner.  Second, he loves good jokes and great stories.

When I read through Tosh’s new book, Top of the Flood: Halfway Through a Fly-fishing Life, I think back to those slogs through New England on the ferry, eating food warmed under a rotisserie heat lamp, listening to Tosh and waiting for the payoff.

TPF-Dropjacket1

Tosh’s recollections come across on the page as they would in person, well-told and with comic sensibility. In his essay called “A Matter of Record,” he recounts his nonchalance about applying for potential IGFA records for flounder and red snapper. He says of the latter, “If my memory serves, we ate that one grilled with new potatoes and a fabulous Veracruz sauce.”

There are great on liners like that in every chapter. (In his essay, “Extremes,” he aptly notes that “…snook are fastidious little pricks, even in Texas.”)

For more, read “The Bass Phase” in this month’s issue of The Drake, check out this excerpt on the Departure Publishing site, and buy a signed copy for $24.95

BOOK REVIEW: Marquesa

Marquesa is a book penned well before the existence of blogs, but it is the type of published work every fly fishing blogger wishes he’d written. Author Jeffrey Cardena’s  account of his solitary venture by houseboat in the Marquesas Keys, an atoll sitting 30 miles west of Key West, is as compelling a first person fishing narrative as you’ll read.

Cardenas was, and still is, a well-regarded Keys fishing guide, but his words are not confined to that world. He writes without pretense, in a natural voice that perfectly reflects his sheer joy and wonderment from being immersed in this wilderness with tarpon, permit, sharks and even cassiopea.  He limits his descriptions of the actual fly fishing–a very good thing–and when he does talk about it he avoids altogether the angler as hunter-hero stalking prey vibe that bogs down much outdoor writing. Plus, Cardenas is well aware of the historical, cultural, and political significance of his surroundings and his weaving of that into the work gives it heft.

It seems weird to be writing a review of a book first published in 1995. But it has been out of print for years now and, in the process has attained a cult status. I first heard of it in a conversation two years ago, and had been trying in vain to find a copy not selling for $400 on eBay. That Departure Publishing** has republished it as an ebook has given it a rebirth and an entirely new audience. (It parallels the release of Tarpon on dvd, both in buzz and in quality of content.)

As an ex-Floridian who never made the crossing to the Marquesas Keys, I had great expectations for this book. Marquesa met them; I found it hard to put the Kindle down. Cardenas ends the book perfectly but too soon. I want more, and more than ever, I want to get there.

$9.99, Departure Publishing

**(Yeah, my book is published by Departure too, but I have no vested interest in posting about this one. I paid full price for it and wrote this review unsolicited.)