Lou Ureneck had asked me to read his book Backcast, he had purchased something like 1,000 Parmechene Belle’s as a promotional aid, as the fly is on the cover of the book, and we struck up a conversation, about our lives as father’s and what fly fishing has meant to us through our lives. He seemed like a very genuine man, who had had similar life experiences to my own, and I told him I looked forward to receiving a copy.
Well as anyone who runs a business knows, there about half the hours in the day that there needs to be, and my reading of Backcast got put on hold. Finally, I found a weekend that was relatively clear, and I picked it up.
From the start this is a captivating read. The descriptions of the surroundings are concise, the story moves briskly, with meaningful insights, and real feeling.
This is not a how-to-book, but a what-it-means book. What it means to be a son, a father, a husband, a divorced dad, and an outdoorsman, particularly a fly fisherman. It is the story of how the great outdoors, and particularly fly fishing help us to gain our bearing, reset our priorities, and regain that part of ourselves that starves for something tangible. It relates how fly fishing can bring us together, or give us sanctuary, how it is beautiful, simplistic and yet sometimes frustrating.
The book’s main story line is of a son and father on a wilderness journey down an Alaskan river, no guide, very few provisions, and perhaps not the best of companions. But the intention, heart, and desire are there. It details the struggles of reaching teenagers, who don’t want to be reached. It talks about fathers who want to make the world right with their children. And children who think their father’s can do nothing that is right.
The book also takes us through childhood explorations, and how the outdoors can help a youth make sense of the often chaotic world around them. One can’t help see the contrast of a youth growing up in that surroundings compared to the Xbox addicted youth of today. How the explorer longing for experience is actually a seed planted very early. And once that seed is cultivated through a lifetime of adventures it can be your bedrock, in times of uncertainty.
I wholly recommend this read, for anyone who thinks of fly fishing, or the outdoors as an indispensable part of their lives, and to anyone who has ever been a father or a son, and had hopes and disappointments for that relationship. This is a well written book, a real book, an honest book, a thoughtful book, and a thoroughly enjoyable read.