Eno Publishers (2011)
The Lyons Press (1999)
BROOK TROUT AND THE WRITING LIFE
Brook Trout and the Writing Life is a brief and brilliant autobiography in which the worlds of the fisherman and the novelist commingle. From the first brookie the author catches to the most recent, this book is a paean to the beauty of brook trout and their place in his life.
The brookie is a constant. As Nova fishes for them in Maine, New York, and Vermont, they become a graceful embodiment of the important moments in his life - falling in love, having children, making friends, writing novels. His life intertwines with his passion for clear brooks and the lovely brook trout. And while the book explores the best of the author's fishing experiences in all their delicious detail, it also looks into the darker moments - as when Nova found himself forced to wear a bulletproof vest provided by the F.B.I.
Brook Trout and the Writing Life is part autobiography and part fishing literature, imbued with a sense of the delight and mystery in moving water and wild brookies. This is a gem of a book, by one of America's finest novelists.
"One of Nova's great strengths as a novelist is his unerring eye for natural detail....The book is unflinchingly candid about both the writing process and the hard work of marriage, each of which is seen intertwined with his fishing and his love of nature." -- Kirkus Reviews
It's no surprise, really, that a novelist of Craig Nova's range should find himself as drawn to trout as he is to words. Both are uncertain and private pursuits with lots of time for contemplation, punctuated by plenty of setbacks and the occasional victory. Remarkably, each has a way of sustaining the other. Nova's memoir is, sadly, short, but the experiences he relates are anything but thin; anglers know there is just as much splendor in a game little fish as there is in one that's trophy-size. On streams from Maine to the Catskills, he skillfully and revealingly connects his fly lines to his life lines: his courtship, his marriage, his daughters, his writing. In one remarkable set piece, he recalls in splendid detail a bizarre episode, complete with the absurd intrigue of overt threats and secret mail drops, in which he becomes the target of an interstate extortion plot; Nova finds solace through the anxiety as he befriends--and fishes with--the FBI agent assigned to his case.
Why, in the end, does angling hook him so? One memorably lovely passage explains the essence of the union: "During important events in my life, I have gone fishing for brook trout. What I got out of this was not just the absence of what was confining or upsetting, but the presence of another quality altogether: These fish are forever associated in my mind with the depths of thankfulness for good fortune, just as they always reminded me of beauty and a sense of what may be possible after all." It is in that hopeful landscape of the possible that anglers--and writers--go to thrive. -- Jeff Silverman, Amazon.com