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The River Why | [David James Duncan]

The River Why

Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus decides to strike out on his own, taking refuge in a secluded cabin on a remote riverbank 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 secluded cabin on a remote riverbank 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.

Here, then, is a funny, sensitive, unforgettable story about the relationships among men, women, the environment, and the human soul.

©1983 David James Duncan; (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"A veritable epic...moving, rhapsodic in its intensity." (Publishers Weekly)
"In the company of Catch-22 and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." (Houston Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (130 )
5 star
 (67)
4 star
 (25)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
4.2 (70 )
5 star
 (39)
4 star
 (16)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (1)
Story
3.9 (66 )
5 star
 (30)
4 star
 (16)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Kent Atlanta, GA, USA 09-24-06
    Kent Atlanta, GA, USA 09-24-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Good book, difficult narration"

    I enjoyed the book. Many parts were quite funny and I liked the overall character development. His philosophical ramblings were insightful.

    I had trouble hearing the narrator at many points throughout the book. His reading was overly dramatic, dropping to a whisper in many places, reaching up into treble clef almost falsetto on others. When he whispered I simply couldn't hear. When he reached high pitches in his drama it hurt my ears. I had trouble finding a good volume since some parts were so quiet and some so loud. These narrative difficulties made it hard for me to enjoy the book as much as I think I could have.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Bellevue, WA, United States 09-04-09
    Mike Bellevue, WA, United States 09-04-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Glad I Read But Can't Say I Highly Recommend"

    At best I would have rated this 4 stars but I chose to rate it only 3 stars due to :

    1. Very uneven; some chapters were touching, warm and inspiring; other chapters I found myself lunging for the fast forward button - boring

    2. In several places the author just seems to go "over the top" with extended and sometimes rambling and disjointed soliloquises; thought at times I was reading Carlos Castaneda

    3. The last 1/3 of the book was excellent however I will weigh in with at least one other reviewer, the ending was very, very weak and just a little sappy and somewhat abrupt following 15 hours of content

    4. The narrator is a little hard to take at times; I applaud him for getting into the voices and characters but he too went a little over the top (dramatically) at times

    It was worth the read but I cannot put it into the "brilliant" and "perfect" review class as others have suggested. I will be curious to see how this story gets translated in the upcoming movie.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leland Issaquah, WA, USA 07-27-09
    Leland Issaquah, WA, USA 07-27-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "We forget to appreciate"

    I love this book and have read it over four times! This year I downloaded it to listen with my dad on our way to the Yakima River and he also enjoyed it. This book is the side of fishing, family and life that we forget to appreciate. Everyone can find somehting good in this book. Its a bit slow in the middle, bare with it for an great ending!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chip Vail, CO, USA 09-23-06
    Chip Vail, CO, USA 09-23-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Top 10"

    As the above reviewer alludes, I too listen on my Ipod while working outside. People would come up to me while I was doubled over in laughter or had big tears coming down my face and ponder my mental balance. You do not have to be a fisherman to enjoy this book. Additionally, many of my friends who have recommended it over the years said they were envious that I was listening to it. The accents add and the verbal inflections make the journey all the more enjoyable. One of his other books "the Brothers K" not on Audible yet is another one to put on your list. I found myself 'finding' things to do so I could keep listening. Enjoy!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susanna 09-29-13
    Susanna 09-29-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "wrong narrator"
    Would you try another book from David James Duncan and/or Dick Hill?

    Duncan is one of my favorite authors. yes


    What didn’t you like about Dick Hill’s performance?

    A back east accented narrator is the worst choice for pacific northwest regional story. This narrator could do a big city crime novel. NOT the River Why. The disconnect between the narrator's voice and the subject made it impossible for me to listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Thorne Bay, AK, United States 08-09-13
    Anthony Thorne Bay, AK, United States 08-09-13 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "awesome!"
    Where does The River Why rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    in the top 20


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The River Why?

    couldnt say the whole book was great


    Have you listened to any of Dick Hill’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    up there he is a most gifted reader, no-body could have read this book but him, this book was written for him to read! He brings life to ANY book he reads, i think even the dictionary would be exciting if he read it


    Who was the most memorable character of The River Why and why?

    they all were


    Any additional comments?

    A classic, brought to life by the Reader!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael SEBASTOPOL, CA, United States 04-09-13
    Michael SEBASTOPOL, CA, United States 04-09-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I am not a child"
    How could the performance have been better?

    He could have calmed down. He read like he was reading to a child. Every character had a ridiculous, overblown accent of some sort. Good narrators can differentiate between characters with very small changes.


    Any additional comments?

    As of now I cannot finish this book. The narrator is just killing it for me. He completely distracts you from the story. Maybe I'll be able to come back to it later.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gardneryan777 Winston Salem, NC, United States 12-04-12
    gardneryan777 Winston Salem, NC, United States 12-04-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Deep"
    What made the experience of listening to The River Why the most enjoyable?

    Its amazing how Gus is presented with many different world views and in the end makes a conclusion based on experience! i loved this, it was very good!


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    i would say so, i would like to see this in open narration.


    If you could take any character from The River Why out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Titus, I need a good laugh


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John United States 12-31-11
    John United States 12-31-11

    Oregon John

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fisherman seeking answers to life"
    If you could sum up The River Why in three words, what would they be?

    The deeper we look................


    What other book might you compare The River Why to and why?

    The River Runs Through It - both are fishing stories that tackle life issues.


    What about Dick Hill’s performance did you like?

    didn't get audio


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    still reading


    Any additional comments?

    a classic never dies

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mstroebe 07-14-11
    mstroebe 07-14-11 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    "One of my all time favorites"

    Powerful, powerful book. Spiritually nourishing, hilarious, and heartwrenching story. I loved Duncan's Brothers K and have found this to be just as good. Very highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Sarah
    GLASGOW, United Kingdom
    4/26/11
    Overall
    "Bit disjointed"

    I don't want to say I didn't like this, as I feel that would be harsh. I would say that it wasn't really of interest to me, but may be to others.

    Gus grows up with a father who swears by fly fishing and a mother who swears by bait fishing. His younger brother is ten years his junior and totally uninterested in the sport. On finishing high school, Gus moves to a remote cabin to lead a solitary existence fishing, which he thinks will be bliss - but it doesn't turn out that way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results

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