The Voices of Rivers
by Matthew Dickerson

Dickerson’s lovingly crafted narratives take us to waters from sockeye spawning streams of Alaska’s Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks, to Rocky Mountain rivers in the national parks and forests of Montana and Wyoming, to the little brook trout creeks in his home waters of Maine. Along the way we will fall in love with arctic streams, glacial rivers flowing green with flour, alpine brooks tumbling out of melting snow, and little estuaries where lobsters and brook trout swim within a few yards of each other; with wide deep lakes, little mountain tarns with crystal clear water, and tannin-laden beaver ponds the color of tea. The narratives are creative, personal, and compelling, yet informed by science and history as well as close observation and the eye of a naturalist. The characters in the stories are fascinating, from fly fishing guides to fisheries biologists to wranglers to Dickerson himself who often explores the rivers with a fly rod in hand, but whose writing transcends any sort of fishing narrative. But the most important characters are the rivers themselves whose stories Dickerson tells, and whose music he helps us to hear.

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“One of America’s greatest (and most threatened) glories is its network of public lands, and in this volume the talented Matthew Dickerson makes the most of them. These landscapes are not the backdrop but the foreground of his lovely essays, that will make you want to travel to these treasures.” — Bill McKibben author Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

“If Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler deserves credit for inspiring the rich literature of fly-fishing, Matthew Dickerson’s The Voices of Rivers immediately merits a place at the current end of that enticing shelf. In addition to Dickerson’s vivid accounts of fishing for trout (mostly) in the rivers of Colorado, Montana, Alaska, and Maine, his new book also conveys an thoughtful and informative perspective on trout ecology and conservation and the importance of public lands for the health of our earth. His highly engaging voice ties this all together with its narrative energy, excitement, and humor. Dickerson’s approach to fishing is in most cases catch-and-release. But this book is definitely a keeper.” — John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home and Picking Up the Flute, co-editor of the Norton Book of Nature Writing, and professor emeritus of English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.

“Matthew Dickerson combines a boyish delight in fishing with a very adult understanding of the plight of our native fisheries from Maine to Alaska.  And the perspicacity of his prose is a great source of delight to us all, fishers and non-fishers alike.  Whether pursuing brook trout or Dolly Varden, Dickerson knows both the thrill of the cast and the agony of horribly compromised habitat.  We are all the more gleeful and sadly wiser for his efforts.” —Paul J. Willis, author of Deer at Twilight: Poems from the North Cascades

“Matthew Dickerson is unashamed of his fascination with waterways. Punctuated with photographic images of rivers glistening or rough-riding down a mountain stream bed, Dickerson’s reflections in The Voices of Rivers alert readers to the primal beauty and strength of waters wild or tame, and their inhabitants, from trout and beaver, to loon and snipe and harlequin duck.  The music of the elements and the shaping of wild landscape and water-scape hold for him reminders of the rhythms of the earth, both rugged and fragile before the onslaught of the human animal and his depredations. His descriptions bring us as readers vivid mental images of the settings that for most of his life have brought for this writer such exhilaration.” — Luci Shaw, poet, Writer in Residence, Regent College, author Thumbprint in the Clay, and Eye of the Beholder. 

“In The Voices of Rivers, Matthew Dickerson obeys Chekhov’s great dictum by rendering the natural world not as a mere backdrop but rather so keenly that the bodies of moving water he traffics as an angler become well-drawn characters in their own right.  In Dickerson’s clean prose, they speak with the bedrock and the cobbles, with the author’s beloved salmonids, and–yes–the author himself.  In a world radiating with ‘the virtual,’ this book provides unmistakable contact with the actual and a rarefied depth of immersion.”  — Chris Dombrowski, author of Body of Water