Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Review (as it appeared in the UK's Trout Fisherman Magazine)

Jeff Vande Zande
Paperback, 174 pages
Available from Whistling Shade Press ( or
Itasca Books (

A NOVELLA and five short stories, the
book’s principal tale involves a fishing trip
across the northern USA by a divorced
father and his young son.
Danny is soon to move to Paris with
his mother and her second husband
and for his father Ed Winters, the fishing
trip becomes a prolonged goodbye, as a
fortnight’s companionship on the river
bank and the road brings Ed’s sense of
impending loss ever more sharply into

A man who’s made a habit of running
away at the first sign of trouble, as his
brother-in-law points out when the
travelling anglers spend a few nights with
him, Ed’s realisation of his mistakes dawns
too late and anger and frustration form an
increasingly prominent backdrop to the
innocent pursuit of cutthroat trout and
elusive grayling.

Eventually, he makes yet another
mistake and before long, father and son
have a bounty hunter hot on their heels as
Danny’s mother begins to panic as to her
son’s fate.

This is not A River Runs Through It:
fishing is merely the background here
to a tale of relationships and regret, yet
that does not detract from the story one
bit. The long miles of driving in search of
new waters, the scenario of father and
son with the world briefly their oyster will
strike a chord with any fisherman.

You’re normally entitled to fear the
worst when a writer has to bring his
own book to your attention for review
but Vande Zande is the rare exception.
Skillfully weaving the story from the
viewpoints of three different people, he
doesn’t waste a single word, drawing you
so deeply into a finely-written tale that you
can almost feel the bumps in the road as
you read it. The ending is perfect, neither
twee nor far-fetched.

If you like good writing, buy it. (Two of
the quintet of short stories also involve

More importantly, though, if you’ve
ever taken life’s most fundamental
relationships for granted, buy it and read it
every few years. It will cure you.

--Jeffrey Prest, Features Editor

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