Review: River Stories

By Scott Richmond

(Note: Audio interview with author Tom Alkire follows this review.)

There are people who enjoy a thoughtful, well-written essay about fly fishing. They are an ardent group, people who consider reading and adventures of the mind to be serious recreation.

Unfortunately, there aren't enough of those people for publishers to risk printing more than a few books for them. The manufacturing and distribution costs are too high, and the market is too thin.

Yes, we have John Gierach's many books, and writings from Dave Hughes, and. . . . uh . . . well . . . um. Other authors try, but their books rarely gain traction, or--more likely--never see the light of day.

So how do you serve that small market of serious readers? And how is a writer to find an audience for his creations?

Fortunately, help comes from 21st century technology: the eBook. For eBook publishers, manufacturing and distribution costs are near zero; time and effort are the primary investments. With the eBook, small markets can be served, and writers can reach their natural audience.

Tom Alkire's self-published eBook, River Stories: Headwaters to the Sea, fits into this brave new world. It is a non-print, Kindle-only collection of fishing essays--a traditional book available in a non-traditional medium.

As the subtitle suggests, River Stories is divided into sections: Headwaters, which focuses on trout fishing; Streams to Rivers, which is mostly about steelhead; and Rivers to the Sea, which includes salmon in both rivers and saltwater.

Essays cover small stream fishing, trout (and not trout) in the famous waters of the Rockies, bull trout, the Deschutes salmonfly hatch, Northwest steelhead, Alaska salmon, the ghosts of Izaac Walton and Rudyard Kipling, and more. There are nineteen essays in all. In each, the writing is thoughtful, elegant, and evocative, a pleasure to read.

Alkire does more than take you on his fishing trips. He often delves into conservation issues, biology, geology, and--most importantly--the angler's psyche. And unlike ssome authors, he knows when a subject has been sufficiently covered and it's time to move on.

If you enjoy reading about fishing as much (or more) than doing it, you will find pleasure in this short book.

River Stories: Headwaters to the Sea, by Tom Alkire. 19 chapters, about 121 pages. $5.99 Kindle eBook. Purchase from Amazon.com

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).