Sunday, March 11, 2018

Safer than Google, truer than the Yellow Pages

If fly fishing is not one's
exact thing yet, inevitably
it will be. It has in com-
mon with cricket or curling
a whiff of provincial eccen-
tricity, although it remains
still less arcane than the
Field Game at Eton or the
bedtime sports of the Amer-
ican President. The setting
is indeed wet, but without
risk of cholera.

By far the best primer in
fly fishing known to me is
so bracingly recondite as
to exceed the Wrykyn tales
of P.G. Wodehouse in scar-
city, and equal them in hi-
larious compensation. The
sense of a triumph of des-
tiny in the book's discov-
ery is bound to strike one
as worth the wait, to be
convulsed so benignly, giv-
en prevailing alternatives.

The book is not widely a-
vailable anymore, if it ev-
er was, which rather ful-
fills the hilarious prin-
ciple in its inspiration,
an advertising campaign
in Britain for what were
known as the Yellow Pages,
some time between Hearst's
campaign for war with Spain
and the Steele memorandum.

I suggest contacting the
London bookseller where I
found my copy. She may be
able to direct one to a
bad book, but she'll warn
one not to go there. What
makes these stories so
delicious is precisely
the joy they instill, of
being in a true place.
For all their high and
low humor, they embody
a humane genius for ob- 
servant travels in the
inexhaustible island.

Michael Russell
All the Way to
  the Bank
  Fly Fishing
  by J.R. Hartley
  J.R. Hartley
  Casts Again
Patrick Benson
Michael Russell, Ltd., 2015©

Cole Sprouse

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