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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing by Mark Kurlansky, read by Mark Kurlansky.

From the award-winning, best-selling author of Cod - the irresistible story of the science, history art and culture of the least efficient way to catch a fish.

Fly fishing, historian Mark Kurlansky has found, is a battle of wits, fly fisher vs. fish - and the fly fisher does not always (or often) win. The targets - salmon, trout and char; and for some, bass, tarpon, tuna, bonefish and even marlin - are highly intelligent, wily, strong and athletic animals. The allure, Kurlansky learns, is that fly fishing makes catching a fish as difficult as possible. There is an art, too, in the crafting of flies. Beautiful and intricate, some are made with more than two dozen pieces of feather and fur from a wide range of animals. The cast as well is a matter of grace and rhythm, with different casts and rods yielding varying results.

Kurlansky is known for his deep dives into the history of specific subjects, from cod to oysters to salt. But he spent his boyhood days on the shore of a shallow pond. Here, where tiny fish weaved under a rocky waterfall, he first tied string to a branch, dangled a worm into the water and unleashed his passion for fishing. 

Since then, a lifelong love of the sport has led him around the world to many countries, coasts and rivers - from the wilds of Alaska to Basque country, from the Catskills in New York to Oregon's Columbia River, from Ireland and Norway to Russia and Japan. And, in true Kurlansky fashion, he absorbed every fact, detail and anecdote along the way.

The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing marries Kurlansky's signature wide-ranging reach with a subject that has captivated him for a lifetime - combining history, craft and personal memoir to show listeners, devotees of the sport or not, the necessity of experiencing nature’s balm first-hand.

©2021 Mark Kurlansky (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"[A] vibrant treatise on fly-fishing.... This is a thoroughly enjoyable mash-up of vivid memoir and fastidious, eccentric history." (Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Terrible Recording

It sounds like the author did his own recording. I gave up after a couple of minutes. He recorded it someplace with terrible echos. Tin can? A public restroom. What a let down. Returning it.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

It isn't Salt, so take this one with a grain of it

This is purely conjecture, but I'm guessing that this book is Mark Kurlansky's passion project and was rejected by more mainstream publishers, so he decided to narrate it himself, perhaps in his bathroom.

Other Kurlansky books are among my absolute favorites, listened to over and over. Salt, Cod, and The Big Oyster are on my list of comfort books I can return to in times of need. Unfortunately, I don't see this one joining the list.

As a book, it's not that bad. I enjoyed most of the content, and I learned a lot more about fly fishing than I ever expected.

And even the performance isn't all bad, though he does sometimes sound rushed, like he's running out of breath and wants to finish a sentence before he passes out. I can ignore the tinny sound after a moment or two.

The real problem here is the editing, or lack thereof. Many times there are multiple takes of sentences repeated. Every narrator makes flubs. That's no big deal. But they're supposed to be removed from the final cut, and when they aren't, it takes us listeners our of the river and reminds us that we're listening to a book, not sharing a fly fishing experience.

That said, I had to laugh and felt camaraderie with Kurlansky toward the end when he took several tries to pronounce the name of a river in Maine and immediately joked about it.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who isn't a Kurlansky fan already or a dedicated fly fisher.

1 person found this helpful

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Bush league recording

Terrible performance. First several chapters sound like they were recorded in a bucket. Rest of recording filled with mistakes and glitches. Narrator not well spoken and sounds like it’s the first time he’s even looked at the text...but he wrote it.