Sunday, September 16, 2012

Literary Greatness in the High Desert

Hola Amigos -

Amid the summer fly fishing and green chili intoxication that was my trip to the magical land of northern New Mexico I developed a secondary aim for the trip. I was determined to cross paths with a literary hero of mine; John Nichols. I discovered my first John Nichols novel during my freshman year in college. Someone left a tattered copy of The Sterile Cuckoo in the dorm lounge at the U of A and I gave it a read and instantly fell in love with the story. I mean really, who didn't date a flake in college?  Shortly thereafter my brother recommended The Milagro Beanfield War and the hook was set deep. I have always went out of my way to read everything John had/has written. I loved the entire New Mexico Trilogy, his heartfelt essays on the American west, and several touching novels about all aspects of the human condition.

I knew that John had lived in Taos since the late 1960s and had not been in the best of health of late. Luck would have it that while my brother and I were taking a short stroll one evening before dinner we encountered the Brodsky Bookshop and it's thoughtful proprietor Rick Smith. A long and wonderful conversation about John ensued and he showed me many first editions that had me drooling. It turns out the John would be having a book signing at the bookshop the week after our trip. Too bad I would not be able to meet him in person. All was not lost as Rick made notes about why I was in town, how I came to enjoy John's work, and several other details about where I was from. I purchased a copy of John's new book On Top of Spoon Mountain and Rick promised a signed copy would appear in the mail. Right on time shortly after arriving home a package came in the mail. While most authors include a short inscription and a signature John wrote a thoughtful page length note that I will treasure. I was so moved by this gesture that I sent John a thank you letter with some fun fishing images from New Mexico. Yesterday I found a return letter in my mailbox. Amazing. I have always operated under the old saw "trust the art not the artist". Sometimes it is nice to be surprised by someone I consider to be an American treasure who deserves a readership as wide as the New Mexico blue sky. Please send as much good karma as possible John's way. He deserves it.

Need a wonderful heartfelt story about love and family with a great sense of place? On Top of Spoon Mountain is a great read. The story is about an aging novelist and avid naturalist named Jonathan trying to come to grips with physical limitations and lost opportunities. Semi-autobiographical? Maybe.
I also had the good fortune to obtain a signed copy of a really cool little fly fishing book titled Instinctive Fly Fishing by Taylor Streit. A New Mexico legend (and friend of John Nichols). I have mentioned how much I like the Taos Fly Shop in previous posts. Having a signed copy of this book made this trip both a literary and fishing success. If your looking for a down to earth book with great fly fishing advice? Taylor's is a great read.

Un Fuerte Abrazos Amigos!
Trout Buddha

PS - The Buddha's Brew Crew has fought all the way back to two games over .500 and find themselves 2.5 games back in the wild card fight. On to a 10 day road trip. Have faith, have hope, cheer for the Crew and Fear the Beer!

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