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Bamboo Fly Rod Suite

Bamboo Fly Rod Suite: Reflections on Fishing and the Geography of Grace

Frank Soos
Illustrations by Kesler Woodward
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 80
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  • Book Info
    Bamboo Fly Rod Suite
    Book Description:

    After he was handed an old broken-down bamboo fly rod, Frank Soos waited several years before he cautiously undertook its restoration. That painstaking enterprise becomes the central metaphor and the unifying theme for the captivating personal essays presented here. With sly wit and disarming candor, Soos recounts fly-fishing adventures that become points of departure for wide-ranging ruminations on the larger questions that haunt him. Coming to terms with his new rod in "On Wanting Everything," Soos casts a skeptical eye on the engines of consumerism and muses on the paradox of how a fishing rod that becomes too valuable ceases to be useful. "The Age of Imperfection" begins as a rueful account of his botched repair work but soon changes into an insightful reflection on the seductiveness of perfection and finishes as an homage to the creative power that comes from mistakes. In "Useful Tools" Soos takes a decidedly pessimistic look at the age-old quest to combine the good with the beautiful and concludes with an eloquent appreciation of a good tool put to an unintended use. "On His Slowness" offers fresh new perceptions about the human costs of the ever-accelerating pace of contemporary life and the increasingly hard work of resisting it. More than a meditation on suicide, "Obituary with Bamboo Fly Rod" engages the issue of individual human responsibility and the ultimate question of "How to be" with equal parts humility and wonder. This elegant volume is handsomely illustrated with the full-color paintings of Alaskan artist Kesler Woodward. Rich in wisdom and physical appeal, Bamboo Fly Rod Suite is a distinctive and rewarding book with wide-ranging appeal.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4259-7
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-1)
    (pp. 3-21)

    I thought I was as happy as I had any reason to expect to be. I was living in Alaska, teaching college English, making more money than I’d ever dreamed of making. I was just sitting in my office minding my own business. If anybody had asked me I might have said I was free of want, free of desire. One of the guys I work with, Eric Heyne, came by with a faded blue cardboard tube. I had a feeling—the kind of feeling you get when somebody you work with casually drops by in the middle of day—...

    (pp. 23-33)

    In the middle of the winter, between midnight and one-thirty in the morning, I have gone to my basement, taken up my brush and varnish, and done a piss-poor job of refinishing my bamboo fly rod. It’s not just the varnish. In fact, the varnish itself comes out looking fairly good. It’s the whole shebang, everything rolled into one, every error I made in wrapping the rod that is now brought to my attention as I apply the varnish and the brush draws my eye to each bit of stubble sticking out between the wraps, each fuzzy fray, every uneven...

    (pp. 35-45)

    It seems like every Sunday there’s a Sears sale flier stuck in the newspaper. On the back page, past the ads for polyester clothing, kitchen appliances, and snow tires come the Craftsman tools. There are always a few specialty tools, vise-grips, torque wrenches and such, with their own individual pictures. But the highlight of the tool section is a big half-page picture offering richly arrayed complete Craftsman tool sets. Ranks of standard sockets, metric sockets, deep-welled sockets, foam-lined spark plug sockets stand ready to serve me. Behind the sockets are the various socket driving devices—swivel-headed, ratcheted, screwdriver style, shorty....

    (pp. 47-59)

    When I started shoveling, I thought I could get all that snow up in an hour. Soon it would be two hours, and I was not finished yet. Why was this? Why have I always thought I should be able to do everything I do faster: run faster, ski faster, even read and write faster? I picture myself as a boy, a first or second grader, running down the hill in front of our house with my friends Tim Nowlin and Alfred Martin. They’re running off and leaving me, not out of some fit of childhood meanness, but because I...

    (pp. 61-72)

    Here’s a story Dave Stark told me. Once he and another guy drove over Murphy Dome to do some fishing on the lower Chatanika. On the west side of the dome the road drops down into a permafrost bog. That’s where they got balled up in the mud on that one-lane road too skinny to turn around in. Equipped with nothing but an axe and a come-along, they spent the better part of an Alaska summer day pulling themselves out of the muck and yanking the truck around in the road for the trip back over the dome. I’m not...