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The Fish's Eye

Essays About Angling and the Outdoors

Ian Frazier


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ISBN10: 0312421699
ISBN13: 9780312421694

Trade Paperback

176 Pages



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In The Fish's Eye, Frazier explores his lifelong passion for fishing, fish, and the aquatic world. He sees the angler's environment all around him—in New York's Grand Central Station, in the cement-lined pond of a city park, in a shimmering bonefish flat in the Florida keys, in the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains. He marvels at the fishing in the turbid Ohio River by downtown Cincinatti, where a good bait for catfsh is half a White Castle french fry. The incidentals of the angling experience, the who and the where of it, interest this beloved New Yorker contributor and author as much as what he catches and how.

The essays collected in this book—including Frazier's famous profile of master angler Jim Deren, late proprietor of the Angler's Roost, a New York tackle store—afford many sharply focused observations of the American outdoors, a place filled with human alterations and detritus that somehow remains defiantly unruined. Frazier's simple love of the sport inspires one straight-ahead angling description after another; the prose in The Fish's Eye ranks with the best contemporary writing on this subject.

Bringing together twenty years of heartfelt, funny, and vivid essays on a timeless pursuit where so many mysteries, both human and natural, coincide, this book "deserves a place in every tackle box in every creek bank in America" (San Francisco Examiner).


Praise for The Fish's Eye

"There is nothing so rare as a perfect book . . . The Fish's Eye, by Ian Frazier, is one of these happy few . . . It is a charming and idiosyncratic collection in which Frazier reflects on his life of fly-fishing, the great outdoors, the natural worlds of the city and suburb, and their unique travails and pleasures."—Chicago Tribune

"Trust Ian Frazier to break new ground in the literature about fishing . . . his humor and imagination infuse the seventeen essays . . . with the manic enthusiasm few anglers can ever explain."—The New York Times Book Review

"In his subject matter and his narrative persona, Ian Frazier—a writer whose investigations of the contemporary American West (Great Plains, On the Rez) unpredictably combine genuine power and an engaging breeziness of manner—particularly resembles John McPhee. In any event, Frazier, like McPhee or like Edward Hoagland, is a man who always stays in touch, psychologically speaking, with the fallen world, no matter how deeply he has gone into the natural one. He has, after all, forsworn angling holiness, and is modestly content to add a small, good book to a distinguished and underrated tradition."—The American Scholar

"[Frazier's] such an incredible writer that even readers who don't care much about fishing will find in The Fish's Eye a welcoming spot to sit and cast about pondering the depths of life."—Los Angeles Times

"He is a keen observer and a genuine lover of nature. On every page is a description that brings the air, sky, water, rocks, flies, and fish stunningly, startlingly to life."—The Boston Globe

"Reading [Frazier] one thinks of such American originals as John McPhee, Wallace Stegner, Edward Hoagland, Peter Matthiessen and Evan Connell."—Ron Hansen, The Washington Post Book World

"Witty, insightful . . . This gem belongs in waterproof pockets and urban backpacks."—New York Post

"A great read . . . [He] is a kindred spirit whose writing has the warmth and humbleness of an old friend."—Big Sky Journal

"It's enough to say you will inhale Ian Frazier's readable and witty The Fish's Eye . . . This isn't a book about fish but about dreams."—The Seattle Times

"A wonderful little volume . . . [Frazier] hooks his reader immediately and, with his blend of reportage and humor, reels us right in."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Whether on a paved shore in Harlem or, naturally, Montana's Yellowstone River, Frazier writes with the unpretentious lyricism and comedy that is the hallmark of all his work."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Hemingway, you have company on my top shelf."—Business Week

"All 17 of the angling pieces Frazier has written over the last 20 years have now been preserved in one volume. Attentive readers of The New Yorker over the last two decades will have caught most of these pieces before, but anglers and essay fans (not to mention Frazier devotees) should be glad to revisit gems like 'An Angler at Heart,' his 1981 profile of a Manhattan tackle dealer. Frazier's sharp eye and self-implicating wit is at work in these charming but unsentimental pieces, whether he's describing his penchant for mayflies in 'It's Hard to Eat Just One,' a family fishing trip in which his kids prefer a drainage ditch to the trout stream in 'A Lovely Sort of Lower Purpose,' or a Central Park pond where the fishermen are as likely to catch empty potato chip bags as catfish in 'Anglers.' Many of these essays are, in fact, about fishing in the city, and Frazier often wrings more suspense and meaning from a muddy stream that runs 'From Wilderness to Wal-Mart' than some outdoor adventure writers get from an expedition through Nepal. His paeans to the angling experience set the standard in this subgenre, yet will amuse many who've never set foot in a tackle shop."—Publishers Weekly

"Near the beginning of 'From Wilderness to Wal-Mart,' an essay describing, from source to mouth, a stream that runs through a Montana town in which the author once lived, Frazier confesses: 'I can watch flowing water for any amount of time. Also, I like to mess around creeks.' As it turns out, those are excellent credentials for writing absorbingly about fishing and related topics. Frazier makes no claims at all to being the world's most knowledgeable angler, and that's only prudent. He returns from far too many of his excursions with nothing to show for his efforts but the memories of the country through which he passed. That's enough. Though he may not so much as wet a fly, Frazier unfailingly communicates an infectious fascination—a passion, really—for woods and water and fish. It's hard to imagine a more heartfelt book, or one more lovingly rendered."—Booklist (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Ian Frazier

Ian Frazier is the author of Great Plains, On the Rez, Family, as well as Coyote v. Acme and Dating Your Mom. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Sigrid Estrada

Ian Frazier

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