Any readers of my previous book reviews on Anglersnet will know that it is now a well established fact that I like my angling anthologies. My little angling library is now not so little, numbering well in excess of 100 books of which over 20% are anthologies of some kind. I find it a great way to introduce myself to different authors and a wider variety of writing styles. The River Prince is no exception, and having read it there’s a few books of ‘source’ material that I will be looking out to buy on e-bay this spring!
The River Prince is an anthology that I ‘missed’ when it first came out. Issued as a limited edition by Medlar in the late 1990’s it rapidly became a collectors item, available only to those with deep pockets on e-bay. Quite a few times I had bids open on a copy only to be ‘sniped’ at the death. It was therefore very welcome news to learn of Medlar’s re-issue of this volume last year (2009) as part of the Medlar Fishing Anthologies collection. (You’ll not be surprised to learn I already own a couple of other books in this series!)
The book is a collection of Barbel stories spanning the entire 20th Century. (Quite literally - from 1900 - 1998 with only a couple of decades not ‘represented‘). Yates has drawn together some of the best angling writers of the age such as Fred J Taylor, Dick Walker, HT Sheringham, Arthur Ramsome, JW Martin & Bernard Venables and sprinkled in a few writers I’d never heard of. The choice of article however is unerringly good. A few stories I have read before in other books and anthologies most however were new and some like the Venables’ piece from the long defunct magazine Creel, I would probably have never got to read had it not turned up here.
The 16 short stories are topped and tailed by 2 pieces written specifically for the book - the opening piece by Chris Yates himself - The Avon at Ibsley - a short taster for the rest of the book. The second, Walking Away From The Thames by John Ginifer nearly had me jumping in my car and driving up to Oxford - before I remembered that the tale would have been written well over a decade ago!!
The re-issued book retails for £15.00 for a hardback copy. Very reasonable as it is printed and bound to Medlar’s usual exemplary standards. My heavy hints last autumn didn’t fall on deaf ears and a copy of the handsome little volume turned up in my Christmas stocking. It was devoured eagerly in a day or so - but now the close season is upon us it is being savoured again at a more leisurely pace - inspiration, if any were needed, for the long days of summer to come.
The River Prince, Chris Yates: ISBN 978-1-899600-65-6. Medlar Press