Fishing in Utopia is a lament for a lost Eden. But it is more than that. Essentially it is a story of modern rootlessness and the search for something to believe in. The fact that that something turns out, absurdly, to be fishing only makes it more tragic. I can see it becoming a cult book, and not just among anglers. You do not (I can personally guarantee) need to have the slightest interest in fishing to be caught up in his rapt descriptions of reels and lines and casting and flies and the enormous quiet of Sweden's uninhabited places. In the last section he drives up into the Swedish arctic to be alone and write. It is a journey into the past. At a lonely farm he comes upon an old couple, and finds that the wife not only believes in trolls but has seen one, a little grey man about 2ft high. Trolls are, he learns, benevolent spirits, quite likely to take milk from a cow at night, but happy to do humans favours in return.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Communing with fish
At the Sunday Times, John Carey reviews Andrew Brown's Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared: