Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Angling Books & Current Reads

I should have been fishing today. But instead I find myself sneezing, shivering a little and hoping this is mere man-flu and not something more sinister. But there is at least some consolation in the form of some tempting current reading material to catch up on. So at the very least I can at least go fishing in some of the rivers and lakes conjured up by other anglers.

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First up is "The One That Got Away" from Merlin Unwin Books. Originally released in the 90's, this reissued edition looks cracking- and more importantly, reads just as well. We've all read the books that serve as a catalogue of an angler's CV of big fish. But the premise of this book is that often the ones we lose often create better and more revealing stories. A great line up of writers includes Jeremy Paxman, George Melly and many others who write not of their triumphs, but those moments when time stood still and the line went slack. I won't give too much away, but this is rich, compelling stuff. Chris Yates' chapter alone ("Jilted by the Queen") describes that potent mixture of excitement and fear that a hooked giant brings in spellbinding fashion. The woodcut illustrations are lovely too:

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Otherwise, my current spot of man flu has also given me the chance to properly devour Fallon's Angler Issue 4. Once again, this indie fishing quarterly is absorbing stuff, by turns reflective, funny and nostalgic. Adding to the already rich variety of contributors, the title goes from strength to strength in terms of imagery- taking a cheeky glance into the recesses of anglers' tackle boxes, unearthing haunting old pictures and taking the reader on some enjoyable detours.

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Perhaps what I like best, however, is the way that this title is giving a platform to writers who deserve more exposure. Not only those we already know like old friends, but other anglers who have a cracking story to share but would never get the time of day at the hands of the usual suspects. Matthew Minter is one of them in issue 4, astutely describing the joy of unearthing forgotten fishing books, treasures, odds and ends as we raid our memories and even the odd charity shop. Lovely stuff.

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There is also a nice incendiary piece from Dexter Petley that might well provoke a few carp anglers, on some carp fishing history. Here's a bit of controversy for you: it would appear that the French were using hair rigs well before we little Englanders ever dreamt of them. From the evidence here, I think he's probably correct- but in typical British fashion we love to think we invented everything. All thought provoking stuff anyway.

In fact the only reading material I'm not massively keen on at present is my own work, as I make the very last proofs and tweaks to my new book "Crooked Lines". Like a musician who has played their repertoire a thousand times, you start to lose all objectivity after a point. It takes readers to enjoy what you've done, reading it for the first time and making it fresh again, for the work to mean anything. That said, I'm still thrilled with the artwork by Sheffield illustrator Lord Bunn, which has also been used to make some rather funky bookmarks that will be sent out with future orders. Watch this space for more news anyway. Now where did I hide the Lemsip?

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