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Publisher's Summary

The classic novel of fly fishing and spirituality republished with a new afterword by the author.

Since its publication in 1983, The River Why has become a classic. David James Duncan's sweeping novel is a coming-of-age comedy about love, nature, and the quest for self-discovery, written in a voice as distinct and powerful as any in American letters.

Gus Orviston is a young fly fisherman who leaves behind his comically schizoid family to find his own path. Taking refuge in a remote cabin, he sets out in pursuit of the Pacific Northwest's elusive steelhead. But what begins as a physical quarry becomes a spiritual one as his quest for self-knowledge batters him with unforeseeable experiences.

Profoundly reflective about our connection to nature and to one another, The River Why is also a comedic roller coaster. Like Gus, the listener emerges utterly changed, stripped bare by the journey Duncan so expertly navigates.

©1983 David James Duncan (P)2016 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

"A veritable epic of flyfishing...done in a high-velocity, exuberant style, sprawling in scale, heedless of form.... The feeling for and evocation of the imperiled natural world is rhapsodic in its intensity; the writing energetic, literary in a distinctly American way.... So amiable is the prevailing tone that the flowing narrative is able to absorb Koranic and Eastern mysticisms, Tao, Sufism, Zen-the religions of oneness and gospel of love-without turning into the kind of maudlin choral chanting that so often disfigures treatments of fusion of self and the world." ( Publishers Weekly)
"This is a modern-repeat, modern -tale of maturity and redemption." ( Christian Science Monitor)
"A whirlwind, madcap, humorous and sensitive novel." ( New York Times)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

surprising read

The more a read the more I wanted to listen. An unusual storyline that was enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent narration of a beautiful book!

It took a chapter or two togrowonme but I love the narrator's interpetationofGus' voice and style.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as The Brothers K

I really loved The Brothers K but by this book by Duncan was a letdown. There was much too much emphasis on fly fishing and the spiritual journey of the protagonist was handled in such a trivial way that is was off-putting. The narrator was versatile and quit good with some of the humorous parts of the story but much too contrived with the more serious. A disappointment.

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Love the book, couldn't stand the narration.

I've read this book before. It's a wonderful book, right up any fisherman's alley but the narrator just didn't do it for me. It was like William Shatner acting out scenes on a river. Just odd with pauses, weird stuttering and rambling. Just nope.

But a truly fantastic book. Both of David James Duncans books are worth the read.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great Book. Narrator's voice was just...wrong

Great Book. Narrator's voice was just...wrong.

i couldn't get through ti. His voice & delivery and reading style just grated on me to no end. I had to turn it off.

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Beyond Dull

Fish might like it. Everyone else will likely question why it was printed at all.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful