Body of Water
A Bloomberg Best Book of 2016
Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions—poetry and fly-fishing; one child, with another on the way; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter, at this particularly challenging moment, a miraculous email: Can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami.
Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide. Bonefish are prized for their elusiveness and their tenacity. And no one was better at hunting them than Pinder, a Bahamian whose accuracy and intuition were virtuosic. He knows what the fish think, said one fisherman, before they think it.
By the time Dombrowski meets Pinder, however, he has been abandoned by the industry he helped build. With cataracts from a lifetime of staring at the water and a tiny severance package after forty years of service, he watches as the world of his beloved bonefish is degraded by tourists he himself did so much to attract. But as Pinder’s stories unfold, Dombrowski discovers a profound integrity and wisdom in the guide’s life.
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Praise and Prizes
“Chris Dombrowski’s writing exhibits a poetic sense of economy. There’s a tremendous amount of information here on the geological, botanical, biological and human history of the region, but the author uses only what’s necessary to the story and relates it in evocative, concise language that reminded me of Gary Snyder one minute and John McPhee the next. . . . Dombrowski’s exacting descriptions of the sport make me long to try it again—and to wish that more fishing books were written by poets.”
“Chris Dombrowski elevates the fly-fishing-as-meditation narrative by the sheer fact that he’s so damn good at writing about it. There’s prose and practicality in equal parts, so the allure of the sport comes through.”
“A brilliant book. Destined to be a classic.”
“Body of Water pours forth beauties, subtleties, dark history, and insight with an unforced lyrical power I associate with no lesser word than ‘masterpiece.’ Dombrowski’s Michigan-to-Montana trajectory updates Jim Harrison, his comedic fishing scenes bear comparison to Thomas McGuane, and his powers of ebullient reflection bring to mind Mary Oliver—yet I’ve read no book anything like Body of Water, and enjoyed no book in memory more.”
“Part love letter to fishing, part natural history of the Bahamas, part conservationist manifesto, and part meditation on the self . . . . Dombrowski’s talent as a writer is on full display here, his tight and rhythmic prose reminding one of the gentle and relaxing lap of water against the hull of a fishing boat on a sunny and windless day.”
“This is some of the best writing that you’ll ever read about fishing. But Body of Water achieves even more—it’s a passionate, luminous, completely delightful book.”
“A lyrical, genre-defying tribute. Drawing on Caribbean history and the evolution of fly-fishing, Chris Dombrowski’s foray into nonfiction proves thematically complex, finely wrought, and profoundly life-affirming.”