Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life

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Viking, 2004 - Sports & Recreation - 242 pages
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In Catch and Release, philosopher Mark Kingwell has written a book about fishing, or more accurately, about thinking about fishing that is unlike any book ever penned about this most unique and challenging of sports. This vibrant blend of memoir, travelogue, reflection, and discussion of the finer points of the art is framed around an annual fishing trip that he and his father and two brothers take each year to British Columbia.

Between the drinking, cigars, and the piloting of a small dingy, Kingwell, previously of the belief that “fishing is stupid,” finds that the sport does allow for one important thing—quite a bit of time to just think, allowing thoughts to wander and new vistas to open up. This realization—a kind of felicitous meandering and suspension in the delights of the moment—leads Kingwell through everything from falconry, male bonding, and procrastination to golf, cooking, and the relationship between reflection and action—not to mention the relative benefits of wet versus dry flies, the cast, and the ethics of fishing. Ultimately, and as this book engagingly shows, fishing is worth thinking about because of the thinking that fishing allows. Especially when the trout aren’t biting.

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Catch & release: trout fishing and the meaning of life

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As Izaak Walton suggested well over three centuries ago in The Complete Angler, angling "is an art worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise man," and more recently writers such as Arnold ... Read full review


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About the author (2004)

Mark Kingwell, a philosopher and critic, is the author of six previous books. Currently professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, he is a contributing editor of HarperĀ's Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, ReaderĀ's Digest, and Utne Reader, among others.

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