Roderick L(angmere) Haig-Brown J. R. de la TORRE BUENO, JR. - Essay

J. R. de la TORRE BUENO, JR.

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["A River Never Sleeps" is] a work of such excellence, such penetration and sureness and knowledge coupled with wisdom, that it stands very near the head of its class. Prediction may be unsafe, but it seems to me we are here dealing with a true classic, a book which will be read, and pondered over, and read again by generations of anglers to come, and always with appreciation and pleasure.

Like many books of substance, "A River Never Sleeps" does not fit easily into any clearly defined category. It is not a book of practical instruction, though it contains much fishing lore. It is not a series of entertaining and exciting fishing stories, though many of the incidents Mr. Haig-Brown treats have these qualities. It is not autobiography, though there is much personal history in it. It is not even a random collection of essays, though much of its content is of that character. It is something of all these, and it is something more besides—the probably unplanned self-revelation of a man who joins curiosity, keen observation and physical activity to a contemplative mind and a true, unsentimental love of nature….

Each month of the year, each remembered scene and incident, suggests to him a phase in the great cycle of nature, and something, too, of the nature of man. These suggestions, rich, wide ranging, and expanded in English of precision and beauty, give "A River Never Sleeps" a broad and lasting worth beyond the range of all but the best anglers' writing.

Fishing, says Mr. Haig-Brown, can, if properly approached, become "the strong and sensitive pleasure of a civilized man." It is not the least virtue of this book that it demonstrates on every page the meaning and the truth of that statement.

J. R. de la Torre Bueno, Jr., "Angler's Year in Many Waters," in New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, December 15, 1946, p. 4.