Read an excerpt from Back Seat with Fish: A Man’s Adventures in Angling and Romance, Henry’s memoir, in Harvard Review Online.
Back Seat with Fish
Back Seat with Fish: A Man’s Adventures in Angling and Romance is unlike any memoir you’ve ever read. Among the hundreds of published angling stories, none so deeply sound the sensual pleasures and tensions of human and piscine life as they emerge from the bedroom and riverbank. From flounder and first dates off working class Long Island, into the wide waters of Indiana, South Dakota, Oregon and all across Asia, Back Seat with Fish offers a wild and wonderful ride.
Drawing on his knowledge of literature, geography, and natural history, Hughes guides us through the watery world, sharing stories of the fish he’s caught and the characters he’s met. Here are tales of bass and bluefish, paddlefish and fugu, sharks and snakeheads, as well as exchanges with a variety of people, including a Sioux Indian friend from South Dakota, an elderly African American on the Mississippi, and his waterside companions in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia.
Fishing is a sport that crosses boundaries of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. In his travels, Hughes learns lessons on these issues as he interacts with people who share and sometimes challenge his love for fishing and eating fish. But this salty journey isn’t just for people who cast lines or love nature and travel. Back Seat with Fish is for anyone who enjoys a good story.
Available on Amazon.
3 Good Books invites writers & artists to share their favorite books on a given theme.
“There are dozens of good books involving sport fishing, and many of our greatest authors have found in fishing some of life’s happiest and most painful moments,” notes Hughes, who admits difficulty in narrowing his favorite books on fishing. “Chekhov, Yeats, Ted Hughes, Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Annie Proulx, to name but a few, loved to fish and write about it. Among those essayists who write specifically about fishing, I count David James Duncan, Ted Leeson, Marjorie Sandor, and Thomas McGuane as the best.”
From Cloudbank Books: Oregon Book Award-winning poet Henry Hughes journeys with master artist Paul Gentry to explore Oregon and the state of America. They create a conversation that is moving, thoughtful, politically engaging and refreshingly playful
What people are saying about Shutter Lines:
“Henry Hughes is one of the great Northwest poets in top form, and now with Paul Gentry and his extraordinary photographs, we get an amazing, unforgettable collection.” —Willy Vlautin
“Photography, poetry, fiction, film—it’s all the same job—to find the right detail that says it all. The resonant details in Gentry’s photographs have leapt into Hughes’ fine writing, bringing people to life and those lives into sharp focus.” —Christopher Rauschenberg
“I like Steinbeck’s work, always have. America seen from close to the ground, nothing fancy, just real. That’s what I get out of Henry Hughes’ writing. Paul Gentry’s photos beautifully echo this writing—they seem to have a loneliness to them, a quietness, too.” —Rick Bartow
“The collaboration in Shutter Lines is so complete that the photographer has come to work like a poet and the poet like a photographer. This book is innovative, investigative, and insightful.” —David Biespiel
“Frank O’Hara’s call for poetry “better than the movies” suggests qualities of movement, vividness, clarity and music: a high standard, met by the poems of Moist Meridian. It won’t do to exaggerate the cinematic quality of the poems, with their flashes of narrative, rapid cuts, crisp dialogue, fresh characters; the kind of thinking and the language are those of a poet— and distinctively reflective poet. The compression and swift varying of mood are those of poetry, as in the opening sentence-fragment of “Black Walnuts,”: little charred brains/ on November streets, where folks from Hope House/ lurch and bump, run rain-suited/ down to Rick’s Coffee and the market,/ over-greeting the kind and idle.” Alertness, generosity, irony and candor govern these poems, which are endlessly curious about the relations among people, with sex, friendship, marriage and alienation examples of an abiding, fearful but engaging mystery. An engaging, uneasy and clear-sighted book.”
Henry Hughes reads at the Ledding Library’s Milwaukie Poetry Series. February 9, 2011.