I was Reading the Latest Gray’s Sporting Journal

I was reading the latest Gray’s Sporting Journal, an endeavor that could take a few weeks considering I only read it while sitting and eating a leisurely meal. How many stories I finish in one sitting depends on the quality of the meal and how leisurely I feel like being.

Day one I got through the first two stories, which weren’t bad. The writer of the first one at one point makes a reference to John Gierach. For some reason that reference stuck in my head.

The second writer winds up doing the same thing, references Gierach. I thought this odd. I’m sure the two writers don’t even know each other and yet, while describing their own experiences, they somehow felt it necessary to mention Gierach.

I dwell on the stupidest things sometimes.

An hour later I put this up on Facebook:

Got the new Gray’s Sporting Journal today. Read a couple of the stories. Both quoted Gierach. SP?

I’ll bet Gierach doesn’t quote anyone and neither should they.

And I mean that.

If I wanted to read what Gierach thought, I would pull one of his books down off my shelf and read Gierach. I was much more interested in the personal experiences of the two writers, but somehow felt that they had watered down that experience with their chosen references.

I can’t recall ever being out and about, or ever writing something down after being out and about and giving any thought to what Gierach might think.

He wasn’t there, what the hell would he know?

This issue of Gray’s is their fly fishing issue. Maybe this referencing of other fly fishermen is just something fly fishermen do.

Today I read story number three. It was, by John Gierach.

I was wrong. Even Gierach references others.

One was a reference to somebody named Wendell Berry. I wasn’t impressed. I have no clue who Wendell Berry is and just out of plain stubbornness, I refuse to look him up.

Another was to Bob White when Gierach was describing his surroundings. I can live with that one. Bob White is a passable artist and it did it’s job, I could picture the surroundings.

The third was an outright quote. Normally I find those the most offensive, but he quoted Marilyn Monroe.

Fishing for ocean run steelhead on a Washington State river and quoting Marilyn Monroe.

I can live with that.

And I was impressed.

9 thoughts on “I was Reading the Latest Gray’s Sporting Journal

  1. bob

    quote – “If people don’t occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you’re doing something wrong.”
    ― John Gierach


  2. walt

    Hi Ken. I would say that the Monroe quote, or reference, in the steelhead article “impresses” because it’s more or less original with the author. Gierach is iconic with many fly-fishing writers so he’s referenced all the time. Problem is, very few of us writers ever have an original idea when we’re expressing our thoughts so we need a reference to make our point clear. To quote someone should be a case of furthering our own ideas, to honor someone, or to tip the hat in their direction. After all, the referenced person has been there before us, so why not make that clear? When we do that, however, to make an impression for ourselves, we merely show that we suck as writers ourselves.
    As a poet setting out in the 70s and 80s, one of my greatest writing mentors was Wendell Berry. After a while I had to quit reading him, though, in order to allow my own voice to be heard. I’ve done the same with Gierach (although I still read him and others for the fun of it). Sometimes writers just have to let their heroes go.

    1. Ken G Post author

      You made my point quite well Walt.

      I read a lot and I read a lot of outdoor writers of all kinds. My brain doesn’t allow me to memorize words or names very well, so I tend to remember ideas, concepts and I can visualize from well done descriptions. That’s what I get for being a visual artist, I can visually imagine damn near anything. I guess that works to my benefit if I’m going to have this attitude. Can’t quote what you can’t remember. But I will remember the impression I got indefinitely.

  3. walt

    My poor brain is similar in that regard. Can’t remember exact words or ideas, even, but enough to allow me a visual of some sort. I’ll take that from a direct experience and use it for clarification, if necessary, when I get home and ready to write.

    1. Ken G Post author

      I can’t remember Bob and I’m too lazy to walk down the stairs to look it up.

      Something about not deserving me at my best or some thing like that…

  4. nick

    Short answer: Gierach quotes a LOT.

    Long answer:I noticed it when I got some of his books on kindle and it flagged how many time various bits had been marked by other readers. Consistently it’s where he quotes eomeone else – and he is consistent in his constantcy. Make sense? Thought not – see short answer

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