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.)

12 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Marquesa”

  1. I wouldn’t hold out for another printing. If you don’t want to spring for a Kindle or a Nook, get an eReader app for your phone and buy this book. You’ll be extremely glad you did.

  2. I really like the book. Just about to start on his other title, Sea Level, released by Departure Publishing via ebook as well.

    w.r.t. ebooks: some people like ’em, some loathe ’em. I have the Kindle App for my ipod touch & devour books like no tomorrow with it. I was hesitant at first, but I changed the background to black & text to white, & find it a lot easier to read with.

    I travel a lot for work, 3-5 weeks at a time, with nothing to do other than work, read, sleep; the Kindle App has saved my hide numerous times. On a very (VERY) slow project in W. Africa, I downloaded & read 23 books on the Kindle App in 32 days…it beat surfin’ the web or re-reading the same issue of a French-language newspaper everyday.

    N. Parry, if you have an ipod touch/iphone/android, the app is free & you can typically download classic books for free to give it a try, at least…

    1. Matt, I heard Sea Level’s a great read too and will be downloading that soon.

      The only thing I don’t like about the Kindle so far, as compared to real books, is that it’s harder to thumb back through the pages to refresh your memory on an earlier passage.

  3. Why didn’t you tell me I can read it off my PC. I just added kindle reader to Chrome . PooF ! Its in front of me.
    After shelling out the price for a piece of the cloud.

  4. I am not sure if anyone is still interested but I do have a hard copy of Marquesa and Sea Level in excellent condition that I would be willing to sell.

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