"Royal Coachmen" by Paul Schullery

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jeff Hale, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. Jeff Hale

    Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

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    Has anyone read this book? I have read it once and remember not really getting into it, so I am reading it again, and I think I remember why I didn't really care for it the first time. For some reason, Mr Schullery rubs me the wrong way each time he mentions another author of a book, then points out how he disagrees with that author, whatever he/she said, and then goes on to make his case. It almost seems to me that every chapter in Schullery's book makes reference to John Gierach, or Gary Lafontaine, or others and then he quotes text from their books, and then makes an argument about how he disagrees with what they wrote. I feel like I am sitting at the dinner table listening to a philosophical argument about why one person is wrong and Mr. Schullery is right. Paul Schullery might actually be correct in his points, but, I am not moved by reading about it. I am looking for more substance, adventure, fishing experiences, funny tales, ramblings and wanderings about flyfising. Not what does and does not constitute a "Trout Bum" and how Gierach shouldn't have written the book "Trout Bum" and it only proves he isn't one, because no respectable trout bum would waste such valuable fishing time writing a book!

    He also has a chapter that basically says that most flyfishers think of themselves as elitist and that what we do is not "art". It may be craft or workmanship or skill, but calling fly-tying or rod-making "art" is overboard. Who cares what one guy calls it? Does he have a monopoly on the meaning of the word "art"? This reminds me of my professors in college arguing over definitions about "Operant versus elicited" bahavior, blah, blah, blah. Maybe I am just not intelligent enough to appreciate these types of discussions. I don't know. Furthermore, Schullery kind of pisses me off when he says that bamboo rods are really inferior fishing tools and that anyone that collects them only does so because he can show that he has "arrived" at becoming a fly-fisherman. That bamboo rods are only status symbols and are now hoarded in closests and not fished, hence the relatively few repairs modern bamboo rod makers are required to perform. Maybe fishing bamboo does offer a subjective feel to the owner, but that dosn't seem like enough to warrant owning a few, according to Schullery. Anyway, I just wondered if anyone else read his book and if you did, what's your take? He is a talented writer, no doubt. I am just not a great fan of the content. Give me Nick Lyons, John Gierach, and Steve Raymond, anyday. Jeff
     
  2. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

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    I've never gotten the Steve Raymond thing; I find his prose little more than servicable, and his tone self-serving and ungenerous. Geirach was great, but has become so mannered as to be almost a parody of himself. I'll give you Lyons most of the time, though I think he has a tendency to sometimes slip into the overly mawkish Robert Traver-ish old school style of flyfishing writing.

    But then again, the bar is pretty low. I always try to keep in mind when thinking about flyfishing "literature" what Charlie Waterman said: Most of what is revered as "great" in fishing writing would be considered essentially unpublishable in any other genre.

    I have not read "Royal Coachman," but a few months ago I read his latest book, "Lewis and Clark Among the Grizzlies." It has nothing to do with fishing, but it is a fascinating and erudite examination of the Corps of Discovery journals to reconstruct a picture of the grizzly populatioin Lewis and Clark encountered on the Great Plains. I loved it.
     
  3. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    I read the year of the fisherman by raymond and really loved it. I've probably read it 5 times. Gierach is really great in my opinion. He is a harcore fisherman that fishes all the time, but not in ways so extreme or foriegn to people that they cannot relate. He is the embodyment of what most fisherman want to be, between the traditional and "new age" or whatever generation.

    I really like writing by Tom Mcguane, Ian Frazier, and David James Duncan, among others.
     
  4. miyawaki

    miyawaki Active Member

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    Have you fellas tried "River of Dreams" by Lani Waller? The first chapter where he recounts his near death experience when the plane he was in crashed into his favorite pool on his favorite river, the Babine, is definitely worth reading.

    Leland.
     
  5. Porter

    Porter Active Member

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    I like Gierach....From what I have read of his work he makes me chuckle from time to time and it's an easy enjoyable read. I have almost finished Blue Upright...by Raymond and also have enjoyed it...a little more technical on the fly tying..(I still have not fully dived into fly tying)...which I assume many like to read. Most of these books have been gifts to me....I'm not sure I would have bought them but I like reading about how some of the big boys have the same illnesses I do....especially towards gear.

    Lani Waller....I really liked his video on Steelheading ( I think it was made in the 80's :confused: ) It's probably the only video I have seen where a fly fisherman talks through a lengthy portion of the show changing flies and lines...explaining everything well and in detail...but doesn't catch a fish....and says "Oh well that's what Stellhead fishing can be like on some days" (paraphrasing).
     
  6. halcyon

    halcyon Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!!!

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    I like everything by Paul Schullery as it is all well researched and factual. The fact that he disagrees with so called modern experts is the best part because as he shows in his discussions he is correct. And obviously Paul Schullery can make folks think about the subjects about which he writes or there would not be such interesting commentary about his writing:) To my mind a writer that can make you think, and take a position, is a writer of merit.
    John Gierach had some good stories to tell in his first 2 books, afterward he simply became a romance novelist of fishing pipe dreams to sell to the masses.
    Lyons is a great story teller who has never run out of good material because he has worked, fished, and lived with the truly great fly fishers of the past 75years, and Steve Raymond is a quality writer that only publishes when he has something to say.

    Regards,
     
  7. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    Just last week I received an advance proof copy of Steve Raymond's newest book, Nervous Water; Variations on a Theme of Fly Fishing, from Lyons Press. There are over thirty, mostly shorter, essays that have appeared previously in Sports Illustrated, Flyfishing, Western Flyfishing, Fly Fisherman and various other publications. For those of you who, as I do, enjoy Steve's work, look for it this spring (May). I'll have a review of it in the summer issue of F&TJ
     
  8. salt dog

    salt dog card shark

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    Thanks for the head's up Preston. I always anticipate, and get, a good read when picking up something new from Mr. Raymond.
     
  9. David Prutsman

    David Prutsman All men are equal before fish

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    Have any of you picked up a copy of "Fly Fishing for Dummies"? Fantastic, sets a presidence for fly fishing literature. :D
     

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