Book Cover

A tackle box full of fishing tips, memories, histories,
anecdotes, taxidermy, and even recipes from an angler who found focus and
purpose for her life among her fellow fishermen on Martha’s Vineyard.

Though the location suggests a life of leisure among the
privileged elite, Messineo endured a hardscrabble upbringing and found herself
among the outsider artistic community, working as a waitress and overindulging
in drugs and alcohol. Fishing likely saved her life, or at least gave her
one, though she doesn’t belabor the redemptive spirit as much as the title
suggests. The author also doesn’t wax too poetic, at least once she moves
beyond the introduction, where she describes fishing as “the meditative place
similar to where gardeners go when they kneel in the dirt and dig their fingers
in the soil….Standing in the surf, casting my lure toward the horizon, I feel
like I am the woman I’m meant to be….My life becomes meaningful and I feel part
of my surroundings.” Comparatively, the rest of the memoir is more nuts-and-bolts
description: how and where the author learned to fish, how she went from
feeling like an intruder to being accepted as a rare woman in a sport dominated
by men, how the ethics and competition of fishing have changed—and how cheaters
have occasionally rigged that competition and gotten away with
it. Messineo writes about lucky sweaters and about how unlucky bananas are
for fishermen. She touches on her marriages and the son she and her
husband have adopted, and she treads lightly on the schizophrenia of her
fishing mentor, who eventually succumbed to suicide. Whereas many fishing
memoirs are often more literary, turning that time with nature into a spiritual
pilgrimage and the art of fishing into a metaphor for life, this is more about
fishing itself, written for readers who like to fish or think they might like
to learn.

A chronicle of a life in fishing by an author who seems like
good company.



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