Cover image for The snowfly : a novel
The snowfly : a novel
Heywood, Joseph.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : The Lyons Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
455 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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"The Snowfly" is a spellbinding novel of suspense, international intrigue, and fly fishing. The holy grail that burns at the core of the novel is the snowfly, a legendary insect that attracts trout of such size that they couldn't possibly exist in the world as we know it.

Bowie Rhodes is a UPI reporter and a fly fisherman of extraordinary talent. He learns of the myth of the snowfly early in his childhood: The giant snowfly hatches every seven years, never on the same river twice. It brings to rise only trout that strain the imagination: trout so huge they would have to have lived forty years or more, so wily that they never allow themselves to be caught, or even seen, so hungry for this fly that they will risk exposure to rise for the hatch. The snowfly is the sacred quest of only the most obsessed trout hunters, and has been seen by no living person, existing only in myth and in a lost manuscript. Rhodes's hunt for the manuscript brings him to the extremes of humanity -- the jungles of Vietnam, the subterfuges of Brezhnev's Soviet Union, a poisoned Canadian wasteland of uranium mines, and deep into his own heart of darkness.

The world Heywood creates is broader, more wild, with more mystery lurking beneath the surface waters than our own. Or is it? "The Snowfly" makes it all seem gloriously possible. Richly imaginative and sexy, this is an irresistible novel for anyone who loves a good thriller and for fly fishermen everywhere.

Author Notes

Joseph Heywood is the author of four highly acclaimed novels: "The Berkut", "Taxi Dancer", "The Domino Conspiracy", & "The Snowfly". He lives & writes in Portage, Michigan & frequently the wilds of the Upper Peninsula.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From his rural Michigan childhood through a career as a journalist, fishing guide, and outdoors writer, Bernie Rhodes has been obsessed with the legend of the snowfly. As revealed in an unpublished manuscript by the mysterious M. J. Key, the snowfly hatches at long intervals, each time in a different river, and entices unimaginably large trout to engage in a feeding frenzy, during which they may be caught by anglers lucky or fanatical enough to be on hand. Rhodes wants to live a normal life, to enjoy his accomplishments and the people--mainly desirable women--he encounters, but he also wants to be on hand for the next snowfly hatching. The question Heywood explores is whether one can live in the ordinary world and pursue the extraordinary at the same time. If not, which life is more worth living? As it is revealed in this sometimes preposterous but always intriguing tale, the answer to that question, as to the several mysteries of the plot, is surprisingly definitive. Not every reader will find the answer convincing, but most will have enjoyed the circuitous quest to find it. --Dennis Dodge

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fly-fishing legend meets global adventure in Heywood's sparkling, ambitious third novel. At the heart of this engrossing bildungsroman is the legendary, perhaps nonexistent snowfly, whose once-a-decade breeding cycle supposedly attracts trout far bigger than most fishermen have ever seen. Narrator Bowie Rhodes overhears a remark about the snowfly when he's eight: his quest for the elusive insect lasts, off and on, for the rest of his life. He grows into a man with a natural gift for fly-fishing and sees traces of the snowfly everywhere. Working as a reporter in Vietnam, Bowie chances on a book called The Legend of the Snowfly by M.J. KeyDthen loses it during the Tet offensive. In Moscow, his hunt for the same book makes him a marked man. Bowie's peripatetic existence includes stints as a spy in a Canadian mining town, a drifter in the mountain West and a tremendously successful fly-fishing guide. At every turning point in Bowie's life, the snowfly makes another appearance; careful readers come to feel that someone or something has dangled the snowfly legend before Bowie, using it as a lure to catch him. Heywood (The Berkut) expertly plants hints of a conspiracy (library references to M.J. Key, for example, disappear almost as soon as Bowie locates them). As the reflective Bowie continues his quest, the intricate plot brings in a childhood sweetheart, a government coverup and a cameo by a world-famous author, wrapping everything up on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (where Heywood himself fishes) in a denouement as neat as any in myth. Heywood's absorbing narrative is part Tom Robbins, part David Copperfield (the Robbinsesque parts take over near the end). It's at once, and almost all the way through, a story about growing up and self-discovery, a fast-moving intercontinental romp and a good fish story, focused (as all of them are) on how people handle the one that got away. Agent, Betsy Nolan. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Upon picking up this book, the reader's first reaction might be to toss it aside. A novel about trout fishing? But wait! The Snowfly is as much about fishing as Moby Dick is about whaling. In other words, it is a framework upon which to build an exciting story. The hero, Bowie Rhodes, is a fisherman whose job as a reporter brings him to such locales as Moscow, Vietnam, Canada, and northern Michigan in the course of the book. Running parallel is the plot of the snowfly, which hatches every seven to ten years, never in the same river twice. It attracts huge trout that risk exposure to rise for the hatch. No one has ever seen the snowfly; it exists only in mythDand in a lost manuscript. Heywood (The Berkut) neatly ties together Rhodes's job as a UPI reporter and his search for this manuscriptDa search that turns out to be more than he bargained for. Recommended.DFred M. Gervat, Concordia Coll., Bronxville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.