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Henry Hughes has been fishing his entire life. But unlike those who stick to their local stream, Hughes has traveled the world in search of new and exciting adventures.
Back Seat with Fish is unlike any memoir you’ve ever read. Traveling across East Asia—from Beijing to Bangkok—as well as throughout the United States, Hughes shares stories of the fish he’s caught and the people he’s met.
Fishing is a sport that crosses boundaries of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. In his travels, Hughes learns lessons on issues of race and culture as he interacts with a wide variety of people who share his love for fishing and enjoy the sensual connection between the salty pleasures and tensions of human and fish life.
Throughout the adventures in Back Seat with Fish are tales with carp and fugu, sharks and snakeheads, as well as exchanges with a variety of people, including a Sioux Indian from South Dakota, an elderly African American on the Mississippi, and waterside inhabitants of Beijing. But Hughes’s journey isn’t just for people who fish or love nature. Back Seat with Fish is for anyone who enjoys a good story.
About the Author
Henry Hughes grew up on Long Island, New York, and has lived in Oregon since 2002. His poems and essays have been featured in Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and Harvard Review. He is the author of three collections of poetry, including Men Holding Eggs and Moist Meridian, and the editor of the Everyman’s Library anthologies The Art of Angling: Poems about Fishing and Fishing Stories. Hughes is a professor of literature and writing at Western Oregon University and resides in Monmouth, Oregon.
“Back Seat with Fish is one man’s erudite, amiable exploration of his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This book is unabashedly, unashamedly fun.” —David James Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of The River Why and The Brothers K
“A really great book about the entangled bird's nest of relationships and pursuing one's passion—in this case fishing. Highly recommended!” —Stephen Sautner, author of Fish On, Fish Off and A Cast in the Woods
“Like all good fishing stories, Hughes’ memoir is full of deep contemplation, rakish humor, and moments of true drama. A personal history of a life defined by tight lines, both literal and literary, Back Seat with Fish lures us from coast to coast and beyond, baited by stories of big fish hooked and lost; youthful tales of sport, sometimes clean, sometimes bawdy; and an ongoing inquiry into the relationship between friends, family, mentors, lovers, and the waters that birth us all.” —Kim Barnes, author of In theWilderness and In the Kingdom of Men
“The writing? Holy cow. Can Henry Hughes write! Among our “Best of the Year” choices, Back Seat with Fish is the most literary. Hughes draws from a foundation in poetry that freshens the book with inviting imagery and provides an underlying momentum that allows it to flow easily along.” —Ron Watters, editor of The Guide to Outdoor Literature
“Back Seat with Fish is finely written by a man with an appetite for the world. Henry Hughes is an absolute pleasure to read.” —Ted Leeson, author of Habit of Rivers
“This is a globe-spanning adventure story of love and fishing that I highly recommend to all anglers. It's funny, provocative, philosophical page-turner that I couldn't put down.” —Cameron Pierce, editor of Taut Lines
“Along comes a gifted writer like Henry Hughes to remind us just how richly entertaining the intertwining obsessions of angling, life, and literature can truly be.” — James R Babb, editor emeritus, Gray’s Sporting Journal
“It’s written that fish are sacred, and the angler one lured by their mystery. That is Henry Hughes, and we are grateful for the beautiful stories he shapes from a fisher’s life.” —Sandra Alcosser, author A Fish to Feed All Hunger and Except by Nature
“Beautiful and wild. Imagine a contemporary Eden prior to and after The Fall, and Eve still unashamed, taking off her clothes before the very eyes of Adam, who has caught his limit for the day, and has no need to lie, except with her.” —Jim Hepworth, Fishtrap Writers Gathering
“Back Seat with Fish is enjoyable precisely because it lacks the pretense found in a lot of angling literature and delves into uncertain truths of lived experience. From his working-class family background to his university professorship, Hughes writes his story with a sense of awe and connectedness to people and world around him.” —Craig Schuhmann, editor of The Flyfishing & Tying Journal
“This literary, earthy memoir by Henry Hughes is a collection of funny, sexy, and heartbreaking tales about fishing, family, love, and life. It’s a ranging coming-of-age read with a tang of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll mixed in with joyous, frustrating angling stories from the Long Island Sound to the Sea of Japan. Strong narrative voice, refreshingly honest, and a bit haunting.” —Margot Page, author of Little Rivers
“Hughes writes with a poet’s pen, while drawing easily on his remarkable sense of fishing’s literary and cultural past. This adventurer in “Angling and Romance” has a heart, too, and you’ll feel the tug of it, or of his fine wit, as you would bumps on the end of your line.” —Bert Bender, author of Sea-Brothers and Catching the Ebb