Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska
By Lou Ureneck
In an attempt to bond with his teenage son, Lou decides to take a ten-day fly-fishing adventure down Alaska's Kanektok River. The unguided and loosely prepared trip gives Lou a chance to reflect on his childhood and the regrettable choices that have led to his crumbling family-life. It is his recent divorce that prompts this trip coupled with his desire to save a failing relationship with his son.
Lou and his son Adam, on the verge of entering college, are confronted with typical Alaskan challenges: territorial brown bears, turbulent weather, a crude map, a lack of provisions, and ordinary fear. Yet, they are also presented with the stunning Alaskan wilderness and spend the majority of their time fishing the clear waters and deep pools scattered along the river catching salmon and char.
In Backcast, a National Outdoor Book Award winner, Ureneck knows how to capture the exhilarating feeling of being surrounded by an abundance of breathtaking scenery. He is a skilled storyteller who weaves an engaging narrative beautifully. The selection's title presents us with a dual meaning. Backcast simply indicates a fly-fishing reference but also conceals a deeper meaning - the way the past seems to shape the present. Ureneck's childhood memoir portrays domestic experiences to which the reader can relate and empathize.
Despite his excellent writing ability, Ureneck makes venturing into the wilderness unprepared seem attractive and thrilling. He creates the illusion that ill-equipped travelers can depend on chance and coincidence to lead them to safety instead of respecting and revering nature.
Readers who are looking for a satisfying novel that incorporates the serenity of nature, the patient, technical sport of fly-fishing tangled with a personal, moral struggle can expect to be pleased with Lou Ureneck's Backcast.
Review By Erin Gurry
Rating: 4 out of 5