Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Big One, Your Big One, The Big One.

When I was a child my mother was always trying to get me to eat my vegetables. I spent many a stubborn evening at the table with crossed arms and a locked jaw against the never ending healthy onslaught. My mom, being the crafty women she is would use a combination of trickery and guerilla tactics in the kitchen such as blending carrots into mashed potatoes and stuffing chicken with broccoli. She even went so far as to hide peas in noodles when making macaroni and cheese. I would like to think that I could always tell, but I have a feeling now that I ate way more vetetus than previously suspected.

This fellow pictured on the left David Kinney, and in a way, he is a lot like my dear old mom.

A print journalist turned novelist, Kinney abandoned the broadsheets and took a trip to the sandy beaches of Martha’s Vineyard to document the fishing, drama, and colorful personalities involved in the annual striped bass tournament.

In an email to me, Kinney called his work an “unusual sort of fishing book.” I cannot validate this statement due to the fact that I am unqualified to tell you what a “usual” sort of fishing book may be, but I can tell you it was most defiantly an entertaining read.

Summed up, Kinney's book The Big One, is very much like a legume-concealing Velveeta smothered noodle.

No, I have not lost my mind…. Just bear with me for a moment.

The Big One, is a deliciously entertaining tale full of big bass, questionable behavior and general fishing shenanigans, but also hidden within its pages is a very healthy serving of Vineyard history.

I am not usually big on reading history, but like vegetables are good for your body, history is good for your mind. Without history, great stories are meaningless and you can never truly know place or its people without knowing their past. And David, being the Pulitzer Prize winning writer that he is, knows this.

Though I may liken the Vineyards yesteryears to green beans, the literary feast of Yukon Gold potatoes and baked ham with spicy Dijon contained within The Big One wouldn’t be complete without it.

And I tell you, after reading it I am still hungry and my minds mouth is left watering for more.

-Alex who thinks this may be the strangest book review ever.


  1. If it weren't for the dawgs underneath our table, I would have eaten alot more veggies too...funny review. And thanks for the shout out to the Rogue Angels below!

  2. If you find the great writers of flyfishing prose, you may not need to cover their veggies with all knds of sauces and condiments - the Meat & Potatoes are there.

    Good writers do not seem to focus on flyfishing, or any kind of fishing, very often, but occasionally a "real" writer - like a food columnist, novelist, journalist (that's debatable), film critic - will write a fishing book or magazine article.

    Rather than analyze and/or bash this guy and discuss a book I have not read, I will list a few writers I think are worth reading:
    Tom McGuane
    Jim Harrison
    Russell Chatham
    Roderick Haig-Brown
    Steve Raymond
    Norman MacLain
    Robert Traver
    Gordon MacQuarie
    John Gierach (of course)

    A good fishing book is like a good mystery or novel to read, should never be a chore to get through. I find some of books published by writers of different disciplines tend to focus more on the competitive nature of fishing, kind of a drag, but just the way the world works.

    "Flyfishing Through Midlife Crisis," by Howell Raines, a former editor from the New York Times, sold ten to a hundred times what the books of McGuane or Harrison sell, though both are formidable writersof novels, movies and magazine articles. "The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass," was penned by a Times food writer - which Jim Harrison has done as well, had a food column - but I didn't like the guy, or feel like he was real fisherman by the end of it - he had a free house on Montauk, LI and hosted chefs and celebrities all summer, fished with guides and ate great food. ok.
    I think you will like Gierach, McGuane et al by the time you finish their books - history and stories interwoven skillfully enough, even though they fish a lot, eat great food, drink too much. You will respect and like them, learn a lot in the process.
    p.s. there are two new dvd's out at the moment:
    one featuring Russell Chatham, "Rivers of a Lost Coast" - see the Trout Underground blog -
    the other, called "Tarpon," with McGuane, Harrison, Chatham, author Richard Brautigan, in the Keys in the sixties- quite a time capsule of young writers, good fishermen.

    I hope this book points people in the direction of fishing writing, there is some great stuff out there, always has been. We should all read more and know more about the history of our sport - it adds a lot to the enjoyment - like "whiskey out of an old tin cup" tastes better around the campfire.


What sayeth you?