Have you ever been so passionate about something that it occupied your every waking moment? In his latest collection of essays, celebrated writer and lifelong angler James R. Babb reflects on his preoccupation with fishing—one so strong that it often keeps him awake—and further recounts many of his most memorable adventures from a life spent casting flies across the globe. From the majestic lakes and rivers of northern Maine to the mountain streams of East Tennessee and crossing the Atlantic to the lochs of Scotland and the chalk streams of southern England, Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep transcends international boundaries to demonstrate that the joy of fishing is universal.
Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep brims with more than two dozen chapters on varying aspects of the sport. In “Roamin' the Gloaming,” Babb hilariously comments on some of the peculiar idioms of his chosen passion. The aptly titled “Snide and Prejudice” reflects on the companionship, friendships, and occasional animosities that arise from fishing with others. And in “Simple Gifts,” Babb muses on the eternal bane and gift of all flyfishermen—the weather.
In the vein of great writers such as Mark Twain, Annie Dillard, and John Gierach, Babb’s poignant prose and witty observations are true testaments to the unparalleled wit of an American master.
Hardcover, 304 pages
"The library of reflective fly-fishing memoirs is made richer by James Babb’s brilliantly written Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep: The Obsessions of a Lifetime Flyfisherman. After eighteen years as the editor of Gray’s Sporting Journal, Babb draws together his many columns into a masterwork of creative nonfiction that embraces angling narrative, travelogue, social satire and insightful human interest infused with the sharpest wit and richest humor. His unpretentious, casual voice easily achieves a lofty literary flourish or a water level observation. Babb is clearly one of our most erudite angling authors, able not only to quote deftly from literature, but to inhabit literature." --Henry Hughes, Flyfishing and Tying Journal
“Jim Babb once told me he writes ‘complicated stories about simple things.’ If he meant that few other writers have his effortless touch with historic references; literary and cultural allusions; fishing, nautical, and backwoods lore; wordplay and sly fun while still leaving an essay room to breathe, then I have to agree. Like all good books, Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep, resembles its author: eccentric, knowledgeable, opinionated, surprising, observant, eloquent, and funny.” —John Gierach, author of All Fishermen Are Liars
“Jim Babb, unlike other fly-fishing writers, never bores me. He is the master of paradox. . . . He never quits, and Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep (great title!) proves once again that he is one of the best essayists we have, who just happens to be a flyfisher.” —Stephen Bodio, author of The Hounds of Heaven
“What James Babb calls his “fish writing” is a welcomed throwback to the days when an angler was a fisherman, and when fish-writers like Ted Trueblood, A.J. McClane, and Sparse Gray Hackle were plying the trade with wit, wisdom, hard-won experience, and an admirable absence of b******t. Each of the stories in this collection is as durable and go-to dependable as a well-tied Hornberg in brook trout country.” —Charles Gaines, bestselling author of Waters Near and Far