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Fool's Paradise Hardcover – 1 May 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743291735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743291736
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 15.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 523,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a huge Gierach fan and he mixes such hilarity good sense and an obvious love of fishing together that I long for more of his books - so any new one or discovery is like gold. The titles have not held up though - waving a stick in the middle of the stream - tax death and trout fishing - but the passion and story telling have just goten better.
When I cant be a fishing I am happy reading Gierach
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By C. Mcsherry on 20 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase



I have read every single one of John Gierach's books and you can take this review for all of them!
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By Richard Neville on 2 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent as always unbeatable price for near perfect paperback
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 36 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
another instant classic 1 May 2008
By Matthew C. Altmin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
John Gierach has written another book for the fisherman, and like his others, this one is an instant classic.
Reading Gierach is both entertaining and enriching, as this trout bum has paid his dues and spent a lifetime in felt soled shoes. A classic, a fun read, and perfect for any fisherman or sportsman with an affinity for the outdoors.

I bought this book while on my way to fish John Gierach's home stream. I bought the book at Mike Clark's shop in Lyons, and while there, John Barr walked in. John Gierach's books have brought me much joy, and someone I most certainly look up to and aspire to be like some day. I highly recommend this book as your first Gierach book or just another one in your collection.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Another winner from Gierach 18 May 2008
By T. Chandler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
(review originally published on the

"I don't have any illusions of permanence... It's just that I can live with any number of things going straight to hell as long as these streams continue to hold up. If this amounts to living in a Fool's Paradise, don't waste your time trying to explain that to the fool."

- John Gierach, Fool's Paradise

With sixteen fly fishing books to his credit - all of which have been continuously in print since their release - John Gierach might just be fly fishing's most-read writer.

Twenty years has passed since the publication of Gierach's eponymous Trout Bum -- a book that remains the favorite of many Gierach fans -- and while Gierach's perspective has evolved, his style remains recognizably (and comfortably) his own.

In his newest book -- Fool's Paradise -- Gierach's facility for one-liners and wry observation from outside the mainstream remain undiminished, and he combines the two frequently:

"I'm still waiting for Americans to realize that being in constant communication is not an advantage, but a short leash. Cell phones have changed us from a nation of self-reliant pioneer types into a bunch of men standing alone in supermarkets saying `Okay, I'm in the the tampon aisle, but I don't see it.'"

Later -- at the start of one of my favorite chapters in the book ("Creeks") -- Gierach does it again with:

"While killing time in a Starbucks in Portland, Oregon, not long ago, I was idly eavesdropping on two businessmen when one -- invoking the tired cliche -- said that their problems might be solved if they could start thinking outside the box. The other, younger man replied, `Dude, there's no box.'"

Some fans might be shocked to hear that Gierach spent time in a Starbucks, or that he's softening his stance on bamboo rods to the point that he fished a graphite rod all week long on another road trip:

"So one afternoon I was happily casting a foam stonefly pattern on a graphite rod when our guide said, `You know, if this gets out, you could lose your charter membership in the Old Farts' Club.'"

Of course, revealing snapshots of your life to strangers comes at a cost; our view of Gierach is partially one of a writer who existed 20 years ago, and in the meantime, Gierach has moved along in his life, and frankly, that's part of the allure of reading his newer books.

I mean, exactly what is happening with AK, Mike Clark, Ed Engle and the rest of the gang?

I'm tempted to suggest the "theme" of Fool's Paradise revolves around the concept of change, and I could back it up with a lot of carefully selected passages, but in truth, that's the kind of thing a critic says out loud while an author scratches his head and wonders what book the guy was reading.

Still, Gierach's recent books (Fool's Paradise is his first in three years) recognize the fact he's not 30 any more, and in places, he does what you'd expect anyone approaching 60 might do; he looks back on his life.

To Gierach's credit, he does so with a sense of wonder:

"This is how time occasionally works. One minute you're a thirteen-year-old drowning worms for bluegills because muskies are among the countless things that are out of your league; the next minute you're a decently preserved fifty-eight and finally landing a muskie. Surely all kinds of things have happened in between, but at the moment, you can't remember any of them."

On a fishing trip to the Fryingpan River with Jim Babb, Gierach cops to the changes that have occurred since he became a trout bum, though he also recognizes the dangers of relying on his own memory:

"One afternoon between hatches, I even started in on how the fish used to be bigger here but lost steam after I saw Jim's skeptical glance. It does seem true, but then over the years we've drifted away from the shoulder-to-shoulder hog holes up under the dam (the most famous one is known as the `the Toilet Bowl') into lesser, but also less crowded, water downstream that we've since come to know and love. And when I go back over old photos and see that the Fryingpan fish don't seem as big as I remember, it's not entirely reasonable to assume that all the snapshots of the really big trout must have gotten lost.

"Jim listened to all this politely, understanding that the old-timer's litany we all grew up hearing becomes irresistible once you realize that the list of things that just aren't the same anymore will soon include you -- if it doesn't already."

One thing that hasn't changed is Gierach's wholly readable style. I've often said he's a deceptive writer; he folds keen observation and surprising insight into essays so readable that you arrive at the "a-ha!" moment without realizing he's been herding you that way the last four pages.

Fool's Paradise will no doubt be snapped up by Gierach's faithful.

Those looking for fly fishing instruction will be disappointed, though anyone looking for insight into the fly fishing life -- without the trappings of ego that cloud the writings of so many others -- will find this is a typically enjoyable (and re-readable) collection of essays.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fool's Paradise 31 May 2008
By Tom Liner - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like Gierach, you will like this one. He just keeps doing it. As usual, he is funny, thoughtful, interesting, entertaining. More than just fishing stories, but mighty good fishing stories nonetheless.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Not his best, but interesting... 1 Feb. 2010
By John Beowulf - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a theory that Gierach is at his best when he is drinking. I hate to say that, but scotch has done so much for Hemingway, Faulkner, Poe, and other celebrated American writers. This book reads better with a shotglass and a beer chaser. I have read every one of Gierach's books. I discovered him at my local library when I came across a copy of "The View from Rat Lake" and have devoured every book he has written since then.

Honestly though, all great writers are inconsistent, unless you consider Jane Austin. If you are thrilled by perfection, go read her six novels. I have better things to do. Gierach is guilty of inconsistancy. We all are, I guess. It is a human condition.

Onto Fool's Paradise. I guess I am burned out on Gierach's stories that start like "There is this stream, I can't tell you where..." and ends with "...and the last trout, the smallest, was 25 inches long." Thats just fish porn. Lousy fish porn. Enough already. His best stories in this book are when he gets off his usual beaten track (AK Best this..., 23 inch trout that...) and talks about flowers, dirt roads, or Hemingway. I love his story about following Papa in his footsteps in Key West. I have done that with Melville, Hemingway, and a few others. I once drank a warm beer while kneeling next to Papa's grave. I did a Vulcan mind meld with the cold granite. It was good. We can all find inspiration in great writers. Good stuff that life is made of. I think Gierach should move on from his boring fly fishing stories that all start and end the same. Perhaps his next book should be about politics: Hunting with Sarah Palin, or something like that. Too much has been written about flyfishing streams you can't say the name of, and then listing the body count. Arg! Its getting old. And dare I say it; other writers do it better.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The picture of yamame 26 Dec. 2010
By Satoshi - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the reasons I bought this book was that there is a picture of landlocked masu salmon (Onchorhynchus masou) on top of its cover. The fish is called yamame (pronounced yah-mah-mae) and one of the two major targets of trout fly fishing here in Japan. I thought there might be a story regarding yamame in this book, but the picture had nothing to do with the stories inside, which was a small dissapointment. I wonder why the book designer put such a picture on the cover. A picture of brown trout, for example, would have been more appropriate.
Still, as many others have already said, this is a great book to read and I have nothing more to say about it.
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