View Full Version : On the Spine of Time

08-18-2010, 05:59 PM
Just read Middleton's "On the Spine of Time" a while back and couldn't put it down,very inspiring.A great read for anyone who likes the Smokies.Ever read it?

08-18-2010, 06:14 PM

I think you will find several posts on the site regarding that book and Middleton in general.

It is grand!

08-18-2010, 06:55 PM
A grand book indeed!

Jim Casada
08-18-2010, 08:53 PM
Canetuck--The book is destined to be a minor classic, if it isn't already. Harry was a good and cherished friend, and his early death deprived the fly-fishing world of an extraordinary talent. If you liked this book, Ron Ellis recently edited a fine anthology of some of Harry's magazine work. It is entitled In That Sweet Country.
Jim Casada

08-19-2010, 12:10 AM
I like it, but "The Earth is Enough" is still my favorite work of his.

Jim Casada
08-19-2010, 07:20 AM
Flyman--I agree. His first book was his best, his second (On the Spine of Time) his next best, and the others appreciably lesser works. Of course "lesser" in Harry's case does not suggest a lack of quality. I also really like The Starlight Creek Angling Society, but it was done in a limited edition of 500 copies and is exceedingly rare.
Jim Casada

No Hackle
08-19-2010, 12:21 PM
One thing in that book that I've never heard of before was the lady that read scalps. My family has a long line of pool-hall owners, moonshiners and just plain mountain folk but that piece of lore is new to me. Very cool and entertaining book.

08-19-2010, 01:51 PM
Agreed it is a great book, one of my favorites, as is The Earth is Enough. I think I first read On the Spine of Time in 94 or 95, and have reread it 3 or 4 times since. My copy is literally falling apart. I do wish the publisher or family would reissue the Starlight Creek Angling Society. I haven't read it, too rare. Got the itch to own it years back and the auctions always ended $ 350.00 plus. A couple of others he wrote; The Bright Country, and Rivers of Memory(?), the latter a tough read. Middleton dealt with some hard times...

08-19-2010, 02:04 PM
I like The Earth is Enough best as well, although the Spine of Time is good as well.


08-19-2010, 02:21 PM
easily one of my favorite authors in the outdoors/flyfishing genre. I've probably read "On the Spine of Time" maybe 4 times or so.. always loved his characters in his books and the many situations and feelings that i could relate to.

Jim Casada
08-19-2010, 03:11 PM
Lynn--Just keep in mind that the characters are strictly fictional. However, phrenology (which I believe without taking time to Google or other wise check it is the "art" of reading scalps) has long been practiced in many parts of the world. Sir Richard F. Burton, the great 19th c. explorer and man of many parts (he spoke 42 languages) was fascinated by the subject. Doubtless Harry, ever intrigued by the offbeat and outre, found it interesting and decided to work it into the book.
Jim Casada

Jim Casada
08-19-2010, 03:14 PM
John--Although I don't know it for a fact in this case, I suspect there is some kind of contractual commitment not to print The Starlight Creek Angling Society. That is quite often the case with limited edition books, precisely because the publisher (and often the author) want it to be truly special and a good investment. In the case of this book, had you spent that $350 a few years back, it would have tripled or quadrupled (at least) by now. I have a copy in my library and really cherish it.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

No Hackle
08-19-2010, 03:57 PM
Phrenology WOW!!!!!!!!! just added to my collection of useless information . Thanks, thats just to cool to not look up. Jim I always enjoy the back ground that you share. It really adds to the story.

Ky Tim
08-22-2010, 11:50 AM
Jim, could you tell us what type of person Middleton was and what he was like to be around? I really enjoy his work, but there seems to be very little information about him. I don't believe I have ever seen a photo of him.

Jim Casada
08-22-2010, 01:42 PM
Ky Tim--If you can get your hands on the last issue of "Sporting Classics" magazine, you'll find my books column there devoted to Harry (and a photo). He was somewhat misanthropic (as I am), shy, reserved (especially in a crowd), and almost certainly insecure. Unlike a lot of exceptionally fine outdoor writers for whom booze has been a problem and a life-shortening addicition, I don't think he drank at all. He was widely read, almost certainly came from a somewhat dysfunctional family background, and had some social difficulties when it came to relating to a large group of folks or to taking orders from anyone.
One on one though, he could be incredibly charming and interesting, and once he found out I grew up in the Smokies and knew them intimately, not to mention learning of my knowledge of Horace Kephart, we really hit it off. I would also note that if you pay attention, there's a lot of revealing stuff about the man in his first two books.
If you can't find "Sporting Classics," e-mail me (jimcasada@comporium.net) and I think I can find the draft of my column on him. I had a huge crash and burn to my desktop computer, but my wife says the folks who said the mother board was dead rescued everything. If so, I've got it.
Jim Casada

08-23-2010, 08:59 AM
I believe there is also a photo of Harry in the book of articles complied by Ron Ellis - In That Sweet Country. I think it is on the inside flap of the back page of the dust cover.

Jim, thanks for the information on your column. Where would you look for that magazine and what was the month and year?

Thanks again for this and all you share on this website.

Jim Casada
08-23-2010, 06:43 PM
donwinn--It's the current issue (if it is out, and I think it is). It is offered at select newstands and you might find that info and the Sporting Classics web site. The photo used with the article is not the same one one shown with "In That Sweet Country."
Thanks for your kind words.
Jim Casada

08-24-2010, 03:37 PM
Just picked up a copy and read the article by Mr. Cassada, great read!


PS: The issue of Sporting classics I bought was shrink wrapped/bagged, with a copy of a new NRA magazine