The Gigantic Book of Fishing Stories
Edited and Introduced by Nick Lyons, Foreword by David Halberstam
OK, I admit I’m a bit of a ‘sucker’ for angling anthologies – in fact I’ve just counted up the number of such volumes in my modest angling library and realise I already have 10 such books, not counting this one. Of these, my favourite 3 – and most comprehensive – are BB’s, Fisherman’s Bedside Book, The Magic Wheel, & Fish, Fishing & the Meaning of Life. I like anthologies as they are a great way of introducing yourself to the works of other authors (its how I discovered the delights of Sheringham’s writing). It’s not surprising, therefore, that I couldn’t help but pick up this book when I happened to be in W.H.Smith’s a couple of months ago and given its size it’s unlikely to go unnoticed in any bookshop!
What was a surprise was the range of authors and writers I hadn’t even heard of – let alone read, before. I expected to flick through the book – see lots of familiar authors – with stories, oft repeated in other volumes – and lever the book back onto the display shelf. And whilst there was a few names I recognised and the odd article, most looked to be new material for me. A note on the back of the book stating that part of the proceeds were going to support ACA clinched my purchasing decision.
The book its-self is literally a heavyweight. Measuring 9½ inches by 7¾ and 2¾inches thick, its 800 pages weigh in at wrist wrenching 3¾lbs. It’s not the sort of book to slip into your hand luggage for a long flight. Which is a pity because the writing would keep any angler of any piscatorial preference absorbed for any number of hours. The book is not just expansive in sheer physical size but in its scope and range of articles. We have authors from across the centuries and across the Atlantic covering a multitude of topics in a wide variety of locations.
This anthology differs from most others that I have (including the three mentioned above) in that it features only whole articles and stories – allowing its authors to ‘get into their stride’. Most other such books mix this up with much shorter contributions – sometimes no more than a paragraph or a quotation. Lyons’ chooses to give us the whole narrative from each writer. The only shorter pieces being the odd bit of poetry.
There are over 100 authors featured including such notables as Hemingway, Zane Grey, Kipling, Izaak Walton (of course) and many more besides. There are also many notable absences, no Yates, no Sheringham not even anything by Arthur Ransome (something from Rod & Line appears in every angling anthology – its compulsory!!). In many ways this makes the book more buy-able – not less – if you already have the volumes I’ve already mentioned. If, like me, you enjoy a good angling anthology then this still IS a good angling anthology – go buy and enjoy.
ISBN 1873674120. Published 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing & Merlin Unwin Books. £20.00 (www.whsmith.co.uk currently have it for £13.20)