Mark Kingwell combines philosophy and fishing with aplomb in Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life. I confess that I am not a fisherman, so I come to this book with an outsider's eye, as one enticed but not converted. What I see is enticing in itself, for this is not a book about fishing (as the author proclaims in his first chapter), but about life, with fishing as its lure. The book runs about from here to there, rather like a trout racing with the line in his mouth, back and forth willy-nilly across the river, occasionally leaping high into the air in moments of startling beauty, occasionally diving deep beneath the surface into pools of insight. Throughout, Catch and Release plays mostly midway beneath the air and the deep, flashing through the reader's mind as if at play, delighting just in the moment of being there. A bit, the author would suggest, like fishing.
Howard Shirley is a writer and father in Nashville.