Cover image for Catch & release : trout fishing and the meaning of life
Catch & release : trout fishing and the meaning of life
Kingwell, Mark, 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2004.

Physical Description:
xiii, 242 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
SH687 .K53 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In Catch and Release , philosopher Mark Kingwell has written a book about fishing, or more accurately, about thinking about fishing that is unlike any book ever penned about this most unique and challenging of sports. This vibrant blend of memoir, travelogue, reflection, and discussion of the finer points of the art is framed around an annual fishing trip that he and his father and two brothers take each year to British Columbia.

Between the drinking, cigars, and the piloting of a small dingy, Kingwell, previously of the belief that “fishing is stupid,” finds that the sport does allow for one important thing—quite a bit of time to just think, allowing thoughts to wander and new vistas to open up. This realization—a kind of felicitous meandering and suspension in the delights of the moment—leads Kingwell through everything from falconry, male bonding, and procrastination to golf, cooking, and the relationship between reflection and action—not to mention the relative benefits of wet versus dry flies, the cast, and the ethics of fishing. Ultimately, and as this book engagingly shows, fishing is worth thinking about because of the thinking that fishing allows. Especially when the trout aren’t biting.

Author Notes

Mark Kingwell is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. He has published five books.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Using a family fishing trip as a catalyst for this memoir, Kingwell reflects on the actions and ideas that the rhythm of "casting and reeling, casting and reeling" conjures up in his mind. Kingwell is only a novice fly fisherman, so his thoughts on the oft-written-about sport stick to the ABCs, but are filled with a sense of joy and awe, so they can hardly be considered basic. Ever the philosophy professor (he teaches at the University of Toronto), Kingwell's musings on angling inevitably lead to in-depth essays on the inherent nature of and reasoning for various aspects of fishing, such as casting, killing, patience and outdoorsmanship. To flesh out his theories, Kingwell quotes from a varied list of sources including philosophers (Aristotle, Nietzsche), writers (Tom Wolfe, Hemingway) and fishing scribes (Izaak Walton, John Gierach). Thankfully, the author never forgets that, despite its philosophical characteristics, fishing, even fly fishing, should be fun. To that end, he livens up his prose with humorous tales about his family (his battles with his brother Sean will speak to anyone with a sibling), Canadian men (a "weird conjunction of manliness and dandyism") and the undeniable virtues of the "boat-beer" ("well known to tone you up and improve both coordination and judgment"). Though, in the end, he gets skunked in his fishing expedition for the meaning of life, Kingwell does create a book that finds a nice balance between the meaningful and the meaningless. Illus. not seen by PW. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

As Izaak Walton suggested well over three centuries ago in The Complete Angler, angling "is an art worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise man," and more recently writers such as Arnold Gingrich (The Well-Tempered Angler, 1966) and Howell Raines (Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis, 1993) have reflected on a sport that lends itself to contemplation. In this work, Kingwell (philosophy, Univ. of Toronto) celebrates the wider meanings of fishing (for trout) in an engaging, entertaining fashion. His opening chapter emphatically states that "This Book Is Not about Fishing," and in a sense that is true. Instead, it suggests, in compelling fashion, that fishing is singularly conducive to thinking. He gives us ample pause to ponder, through the medium of angling, all sorts of vital issues in the game of life. Funny, irreverent, and provocative, this is a book anglers, as well as others, will cherish.-Jim Casada, Outdoor Writers Assn. of America, Rock Hill, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Acknowledgements   Chapter 1 - This Book Is Not About Fishing Chapter 2 - Fishing Is Stupid Chapter 3 - Golf Is Also Stupid Chapter 4 - Who Is Fred? Chapter 5 - The Exercise of Skill Is an End in Itself Chapter 6 - Patience Chapter 7 - Killing Chapter 8 - Boredom, Procrastination, and Losing Your Way Chapter 9 - Comfort PENGUIN BOOKS CATCH AND RELEASE Mark Kingwell, a critic and professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, is the author of six books, including The World We Want (2001) and Practical Judgments (2002). He is a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, and the Utne Reader. PENGUIN BOOKS Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pry Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004 Published in Penguin Books 2005 Copyright © Mark Kingwell, 2003 All rights reserved Excerpted from Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life by Mark Kingwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1. This Book Is Not About Fishingp. 1
2. Fishing Is Stupidp. 19
3. Golf Is Also Stupidp. 51
4. Who Is Fred?p. 73
5. The Exercise of Skill Is an End in Itselfp. 111
6. Patiencep. 143
7. Killingp. 163
8. Boredom, Procrastination, and Losing Your Wayp. 187
9. Comfortp. 219