While father and son fishing trips can be the stuff of American legend, they can also turn out to be the stuff of anger, love and self-discovery. In his memoir of a fishing trip through the Alaskan wilderness, Lou Ureneck brings to life the struggle to reclaim the trust of his teenage son, Adam, following his divorce. Along the way, nature transforms from friend into foe, and their struggles are played out against the poignant emotional battle raging between the two as they descend the river headed toward confrontation. On their journey, the two encounter nature’s dangers — bears, violent river currents and ruthless, punishing weather — as well as the hurts that exist between them, the reasons for divorce, the absence of a father and the withheld love of a son. Dipping his hand into the river of his own life, Ureneck recounts his own fatherless childhood, the influence of his mother’s boyfriend who helped him learn to fish, and the realization that he himself had done the one thing he always promised himself he would not do: He ended his marriage in divorce. Part adventure story, part reconciliation with life’s unexpected turns, and part commentary on the healing power of nature, Backcast explores the world of a man confronted by the hard choices divorce can bring to create a moving meditation on fatherhood.
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LOU URENECK is an outdoorsman, professor and father. In his 20 years at the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, where he rose from reporter to editor, Lou crusaded to protect the state's environment against clear-cutting and commercial over-fishing. He was an editor-in-residence at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and page-one editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is now chairman of the Department of Journalism at Boston University. His work has been published in The New York Times, Boston Globe and Field & Stream. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.