Friday, December 17, 2010

Upstream With Thomas McGuane

a reading response by Cavin  Losett

Upstream: Fly Fishing in the American West, is a collaboration between internationally acclaimed writer Thomas McGuane and photographer Charles Lindsay. It uses stunning imagery along with short stories to depict the grace and beauty of fly-fishing in the American West. McGuane’s artfully crafted stories brought me back to my childhood and the countless days spent with line and rod between my fingers, and the simple splendor felt in the presence of twisting brooks and wandering rivers.

The various stories by McGuane in Upstream provide different glimpses into the art of fly-fishing, whether it be a funny tale of angling on a small stream in southern Montana or the rhythmic meditation of casting a size-fifteen fly during a tranquil Indian summer day, he ventures into the very soul of man to explore his need to fish.

Whatever drives some people to hunt lies in a great skein of elements that are beyond selective human control and may include both compassion and war making. Fishing, of course, is a part of hunting and anyone who not picked up its instruments and gone forth to feel the transmutation of the country before them has experienced a profound omission. It is what Orwell called a hole in the light.

McGuane evokes the significance of fishing within this book. He allows for fishing to be a tool for a greater evaluation of nature and the deep-rooted nature of man to go forth and exist as one with a stream.

Fly-fishing is elevated to a new level of spirituality within McGuane’s stories, is shown to be not a spiritual bond of man and God, but rather a bond of man and rod with nature.

Upstream provides a quintessential view of fly-fishing within the American West. Whether it is an avid fly-fisherman or a mere dabbler in the art, I strongly suggest this book. McGuane’s deep insight into angling combined with Lindsay’s photography brings the true nature and magnificence of fly-fishing to surface of the pages.


Cavin Losett is currently a junior in the creative writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula. His interests include fishing, guitar, writing, traveling, and soccer. His favorite fishing spot is the upper Stillwater River where his family owns land. He also enjoys casting along the Yellowstone and Blackfoot rivers and Rock Creek.

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