View Full Version : Middleton,me,monktrout and donwinn

02-06-2008, 12:59 PM
I think Middleton is a good writer.If you have fished the Smokies,his words about fly fishing can remind you of the simplicity and goodness in nature.You want to grab the cane and head for the mountains.I did a little research in Middleton.He was a gifted writer,but was born to lose because of alcohol,financial problems,and the inability to to get along with others.
Peter Matthiessen was highly educated,an intellectual.The Snow Leopard was one of his great books.I think it won the National Book Award.I have read it several times,because of its beauty and humanity and truth.The author opens up,tells us the truth about life and bad marriage,and death by cancer.He traveled deep into the Himalayas,looked for religous gratification,hoped to see an ancient leopard,tried to cope with ther guilt of his wife's death,only to realize that finding one's self could not be plotted on a travel map.Self is human with a soul and his soul longed for his son,left behind in the USA.He was thousands of miles from home.He was a searcher,only to find there was no search,His love for his son was finding himself.I don't think Middleton had the ability to open up and lay himself bare before the reader like PM.

02-06-2008, 01:03 PM
Middleton like PM had a gift with words and his description of fishing in the Smokies is memorable if not poignant(sp?)

02-06-2008, 02:09 PM
...I don't think Middleton had the ability to open up and lay himself bare before the reader like PM.

You must not have read Bright Country. His struggle with depression was painfully evident. It made me cringe just read the parts about lying on the floor of his unfurnished apartment in a depression so deep that nothing - not even flyfishing - could drag him out of it. His state of mind was decidedly different when writing On the Spine...

Just my thoughts.

02-06-2008, 03:04 PM
I am 2/3'rds thru "Spine", and don't believe I will ever look at trout/fly fishing again in the same way.
I believe that we all get too caught up in the technology of the "latest and Greatest" toys out on the market, and miss the "Soul" of fishing, and that of the areas we fish in.
I, for one, will be better for having read Middleton... maybe not a better fisherman, but hopefully a better husband, person, friend, and steward of my surroundings.

02-06-2008, 03:14 PM
He was a gifted writer,but was born to lose because of alcohol,financial problems,and the inability to to get along with others.

I wonder how many of us, isolate ourselves when fishing(or in life in general) to the point that we might have missed an opportunity to get to know a Guy like Middleton, and to care enough to try and help?

What is worse is not knowing how much that act would have helped us.

One of those things that make you hmmmmm

02-06-2008, 04:19 PM
I certainly would not want his other problems, but I wish I had his vocabulary and skill at piecing together those words into a reflection of what he gathered through his senses about his surroundings, people, and fly fishing.

I do a little writing, very little I am afraid. It is hard work for me. For him, it was probably child’s play. I love his books. I think I wish I could have talked to him. Maybe he talked to me the best way he knew how. Thankfully, two of his books were about good memories for his life as a whole was sad.

I bet ole Elias Wonder is giving Harry another fly fishing lesson right now.

02-06-2008, 07:46 PM
plunker--I wonder why we need guys like Middleton to force feed us the abstract answers to the inigma of why we fly fish.I think you are right.Wheather Middleton knew it or not,his book(s)are primers ,they describe our streams,and the way we should see and feel them.His words changes the way we look at streams--you are right

02-06-2008, 08:48 PM
Just a simple thought Lauxier. I think Middleton could have said it much better.

I mentioned in another post somewhere that I was told about Middleton last year, but lost his name...someone here brought him up, I went out next day and found a copy of "Spine". Interesting part of the story is that the Bookstore I purchased it from is only a couple of blocks from where he lived, and the owner knows quite a few people who knew him. None knew him well it seemed.

I was so happy to have found him though...unfortunatly I have an affinity for dead writers, which seriously limits available bodies of work. Middleton will now occupy the void next to Papa on the bookshelf, and in my heart.

Also I would like to thank you for bringing up "the Snow Leopard" have heard of it, but never think of it when I'm out and about...I look forward to getting my hands on that as well!:smile:

02-07-2008, 11:34 PM
Some great posts from everyone. Middleton and Mathiesen wonderful writers asking us to look beyond our small world. For us who fly fish, in the end we are only talking about fishing. The streams, mountains, animals, fish , scenery are all happy accidents of our earnest endeavor - fishing. Another writer, Thomas McGuane said, "fishing is the sport of kings, but it is just what the deadbeat ordered." Aren't we at our best when we are simply deadbeats? The deadbeat lives in the moment- not fretting over yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. Middleton wanted that freedom of the moment. We all want to live in the moment when we are on the stream or in the mountains. If I can get 4 hours on the water I can give a better 40 to the boss. Or even better, I'll feel rejuvenated enough to visit a sick friend, tell the kids you love them, and make amends in the family - even if I wasn't wrong. Maybe it's not just fishing if we do it right.

02-08-2008, 04:35 PM
Is this where we take the "Blue" pill? or the "Red" one:biggrin:

Just a footnote to my earlier story...Spoke to the owner of the Bookstore where I bought "Spine". Turns out he knew Middleton, and confirmed what Lauxier said...hard Guy to get to know, but that he had a depth of presence that was deeper than any pool he ever fished in. His most interesting comment about Middleton was that it seemed as though nothing escaped his attention. In a room with him you felt as though he was absorbing everything.

I see the results in his writing...I get the feeling, if you were down stream of him, that there might not be any air, water, light, or trout...because he took it all in ahead of you.

02-08-2008, 05:08 PM
that was a great post Plunker--H.M's sensitivity and intelligence must have been a heavy load to carry,because as surely as it was an artistic gift,more surely it made him drift into isolation from others and loved ones which is in itself depressing.

02-08-2008, 06:23 PM
In that Middleton spent the last days of his life on the back of a Garbage truck...I submit that, had he had a chance, he could have found and expressed the nobility, dignity, and beauty of that profession as well! If only the nobility, dignity, and beauty of doing what is necessary to support your family!

Plagued by demons?...certainly.
Retaining enough human grace and dignity to NOT take the easy way out (yeah! Papa Hemingway this means you:mad: )...Positively!

This Guy never had a chance at the Prize...didn't live long enough.

Can I getta AMEN from the sprinkled and anointed Brothers and Sisters of the "Owl Creek Gap Church of Universal Harmony"?:eek:
Apostle Plunker Presiding

02-08-2008, 07:26 PM
AMEN I was soul searching for a church for a long time. Married a catholic now I am Catholic and very happy. But things may have been different if I had water from the Little river poured over my head and went off to do no harm.

02-09-2008, 08:05 PM
I'll give you an AMEN because Owl Creek Gap is the only church I belong to...No others would have me!!

Gerry Romer
02-09-2008, 09:52 PM
But things may have been different if I had water from the Little river poured over my head and went off to do no harm.

way different for sure...

02-09-2008, 10:03 PM
Praise the Brookies and pass the collection plate!!!!

The spirit is coming over me to take up Serpent!

Elk riverrat
02-09-2008, 11:09 PM
I've never researched this but was told a couple of years ago in a conversation with someone who was in the know, that Middleton was fired from an editor job with Southern Home Living or ? and just went down hill from there.

02-10-2008, 02:19 PM
he was fired from southern living for his inability to get along with upper echelon folks who ran the magazine--he thought his articles were above being edited,he seemed to be dominated by ego and the beleif he was infected by an intellect and talent so apparent that it bordered on being sinful to question the words that flowed from his god given gifts

02-11-2008, 12:17 PM
... was about 2 or so years ago. I had seen, "On The Spine of Time" recommended and having grown to love the mountains from a young age, I couldn't resist the temptation to read yet another book about the area.

Needless to say that once I picked up a copy, I only set it down for meals and to sleep. I have to admit the first several pages were a bit wordy to me, but pressing past those few brief pages, I became addicted.

I suppose for me part of the allure was in my ability to so readily relate to Middleton's perspective and the incredible pictures he painted by the choice of words and manner in which he phrased his thoughts. In many cases it felt as though he had reached into the depths of my own soul and translated my deepest thoughts and emotions into words and images that I found myself unable to communicate or at least not able to do so with the clarity and impact his choice of words produced.

One of my favorite thoughts along these lines also answers for me, the "why?" of why I so love to fly-fish. It is as follows, "Some of my best days as an angler have been those when I have not wet a line or set a hook, but only sat and watched the stream and the daylight, and by day's end my senses, if not my creel, were overflowing. Angling brings with it a certain pleasurable degree of democracy, the right to hook a fish or simply pursue an especially intriguing day, one filled with soft light and a labyrinth of shadows. What other pastime offers such success, such reward for non-participation? (this next sentence is among my favorites) Fly-fishing has many attributes, but none more pleasing than it's ability to liberate the young boy that still hides within me and to let that boy live again without embarrassment or regret, sorrow or anguish."

God Bless,