The River Why

Narrated by: Dick Hill
Length: 15 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (157 ratings)

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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 listeners say about The River Why

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

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.

3 people found this helpful

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Distracting narrator but terrific story

Like many other reviewers I really disliked the style of narration by this narrator. Lots of odd stops, overly dramatic and weird emphasis on certain words. Felt like a bad actor was trying to impress someone with a dramatic reading. But the story was good enough that I survived the poor reading of it and found I could still enjoy the book in the end. I guess you get used to the weird narration after a while.

2 people found this helpful

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I Can't Listen to This

I have been trying. to listen to this book however the narrator just doesn't work wit the story. I am going to return the book.

2 people found this helpful

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surprising read

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

1 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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as a fly fisher’man’—

I found it fascinating; some of the characters were ‘over the top’ and even a little annoying- there were parts I didn’t quite understand, like the long stumble to source of ‘Tamanowes” but overall, beautiful and captivating and even a little tear-inducing;-)
(I liked BrothersK btw,tho the love-sick tangent in Alaska had same effect as river source walk—annoying(!) ‘I don’t care anymore!’ 😜
I do like this author and the melding of philosophy, psychology and biology/nature into story.

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The best

This is one of my favorite books of all time. If you have any love of fishing, and life it’s worth your time.

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Dick Hill's labored reading is a buzzkill for me.

I'm going to give this highly acclaimed novel a Kindle try. Audible version doesn't work.

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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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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.