News and Notes
February, 2023: A foreword to The Flies that Trout Prefer
In recent years two British friends, Peter Hayes and Don Stazicker, have conducted some of the most ingenious and pathbreaking studies of the behavior of feeding trout in the long history of such inquiries. Employing the latest in photographic technology, they've captured details of how trout feed that were unavailable to previous generations of even the most sharp-eyed of observers, then they've insightfully interpreted what they've discovered so they can apply it to considerations of trout-fly patterns and fly presentation. All in all, it's a unprecedented and often startling look at what's really going on in your favorite trout stream as you watch the fish rising, splashing, and otherwise go through their day.
In 2019 I wrote an admiring foreword for their previous book, Trout and Flies – Getting Closer, and for this new book they have introductory remarks from another great British angler, Charles Jardine, plus a return engagement from me (not sure why they asked me when they could surely find much better-known fishermen to give this book endorsements). This note is my encouragement to fly fishers to give this book a thorough reading.
Because their books are so full of links to video material (if that's the correct way to express it), they have only been released as Kindle books, not as clothbound books, but of course that makes them easily accessible anyway.
By way of further recommendation, here's my whole foreword to their new book, The Flies that Trout Prefer: Why They Work and How to Fish Them:
Those of us who enjoy—or even immodestly hope to advance—the arcane metaphysics of a successful trout fly have always taken a lot of heat for our insatiable curiosity about exactly how a trout stream and its inhabitants operate. Setting aside all our fellow fly fishers, whose own certainties on the matter of trout flies differ militantly one from another, we are confronted with lay skeptics beyond counting.
On the one hand, there are the pseudo-pragmatic scoffers, who insist on telling us about the time they caught a trout on a cigarette butt or a Nixon campaign button. The trout don't care about all that science stuff, they insist.
On the other hand, there are the secular moralists, who tsk us for squandering our time and energy on such a trivial enterprise in the first place, when we should instead be squandering it on making money, cheering on some franchise in the Industrial Ball Game Establishment, or supporting the policies of some duly elected windbag.
On another hand—and there are many hands in such situations—there are the aesthetic luddites, who accuse us of trying, by means of our looking ever harder at the trout fly's fundamental existential issues, to remove the mystery and wonder from the wondrous workings of a trout stream.
I regard it as an eloquent testimonial to the great worth of Peter Hayes' and Don Stazicker's book, The Flies that Trout Prefer, that it would drive all those doubters nuts. Here is a masterpiece of informed and penetrating inquiry that, first, will serve anglers well on the 99 percent of days when trout will ignore cigarette butts; that, second, celebrates the greater sense and rewards to be found along trout streams than to be had in bellowing coach-like commands at your flatscreen tv; and that, third, celebrates and reinforces the fly fisher's long-held conviction that the deeper we explore the nature of a trout stream, the more, rather than the less, mystery and wonder we find.
Peter and Don must be ranked among our foremost angler-naturalists. Indeed, were the world of publishing not so thoroughly balkanized and stuck in its many specialty ruts, I like to think that any serious observer of natural settings and wild creatures could find much to learn and admire here. That idle dream aside, Peter and Don do their job well for those of us lucky enough to read their books, which stir up just the right sort of trouble and new thinking to keep the quest going.
Our perennial campaign to get trout flies right is one of the great joys of fly fishing but it's hardly a simple joy, involving as it always has large volumes of received wisdom that isn't actually wise and the imponderably idiosyncratic behavior of every individual trout or insect we encounter. Of course fly fishing wouldn't even be a sport without those very challenges, so we're very lucky to have The Flies that Trout Prefer to help us on our way.
Fall, 2022: A Fish Come True now in paperback
Just a quick note to let you know that Stackpole Books has just released a trade paperback edition of A Fish Come True: Fables, Farces, and Fantasies for the Hopeful Angler, my book of fishing fiction first published in 2019. If you missed the original book, here's a chance to get it cheaper, though still with that same lovely Eldridge Hardie painting on the cover.
For extra credit, here are a couple gratifying jacket blurbs for the book, from fishing writers who know what they're talking about:
"Schullery us a rare talent in fly-fishing writing and one of my favorites." --- Tom Rosenbauer, author of The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, Fly Fishing for Trout: The Next Level, and many other books.
"No one takes us deeper into the currents and culture of fly fishing than Schullery." --- Robert DeMott, Author of Angling Days: A Fly Fisher's Journal and editor of Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing.
Spring 2022: A most gratifying review of The Bear Doesn't Know
The approval much less the praise that matters most to us comes from the people who know what they're talking about. When The Bear Doesn't Know was published last September, the potential review I most hoped for and most feared was the one that might appear in International Bear News, the bulletin of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA for short). The IBA is the world's foremost scientific society devoted entirely to bears. For several decades now the IBA and its members have led efforts both to better understand bears and to better protect and preserve robust populations of all the world's bear species. It's heroic work they do, and I can't miss this opportunity to encourage you to support their work. Anyone can join, and if bears are a special interest of yours you won't find a more reliable source of research findings and management news. Just go to bearbiology.org.
Having said all that, it will be obvious why I was so pleased when International Bear News (Spring 2022, 31(1), 40-41) recently gave my book a generous and highly favorable review. The reviewer is Dr. Frank T. van Manen, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, Bozeman, Montana. Here are some excerpts from his review:
"Paul masterfully weaves science with observations and personal stories, ideas, and experiences in an accessible and entertaining manner. He delivers a healthy dose of wit and humor throughout, which made this one of the most enjoyable bear books I've have read . . . . This book is a wonderful compilation of the inspiring musings and contemplations of a true naturalist who finds beauty, joy, and mystery in all of nature, no matter how subtle or sublime, and fulfillment in simply knowing that bears are around . . . . [The book is] a fitting tribute to everything that bears represent to us and to the bears themselves, even if they don't know." --- Frank T. van Manen, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, Bozeman, Montana.
September 2021: The Bear Doesn't Know: Life and Wonder in Bear Country
Here's a new book that is especially dear to me. The Bear Doesn't Know represents a personal milestone in my appreciation for and admiration of bears. What's more, the folks at the University of Nebraska Press have done a swell job in bringing my stories, reflections, historical meanderings, and modest adventures to life on the page, with a generous selection of historic and modern photographs and other lively art, and exactly the cover art I wanted: a spectacular portrait of a big grizzly bear painted by the great Carl Rungius nearly a century ago. It's just the book I have long hoped it would be.
Looking back through the half dozen bear books and all the other bear-related writings of mine that preceded this book, I can a struck by how my always hopeful appreciation of bears has matured and deepened over the decades. Thus, though many chapters of the book are new to both you and me, others had previous lives in other forms in magazines or in other books (whether mine or someone else's). It's a treat and a privilege to revisit them, think them over, and bring them up to date. Altogether, this combination of new impressions and reconsidered older thoughts represents my best shot at expressing where now I stand—a state of the heart report, you might say—on the whole wondrous matter of bears.
The Bear Doesn't Know has received high and warm advance praise:
"Paul Schullery has spent the last 50 years watching and thinking about bears. In this entertaining and informative collection of essays and stories––ranging from bear myths to the latest science, from personal encounters to contemplations about our species' complicated relationship with what he calls 'these bewildering, wondrous animals'––he lets us in on what he discovered. We're lucky he did. Schullery possesses a wonderfully inquisitive mind, a passion for the natural world and, thankfully for us all, a talent for explaining things with both precision and a wry sense of humor. --- Dayton Duncan, Writer/Producer, The National Parks: America's Best Idea
"Paul Schullery is a master of the essayist's and memoirist's craft. His prose is clean and cogent, witty and wise. He pays great attention. He has been out among the bears – often with the biologists who study them – and this has given him a fine understanding of and appreciation for these formidable mammals. The Bear Doesn't Know is educating and entertaining, a thoroughly delightful paean to these very special creatures with whom we are privileged to share the earth." --- Charles Fergus, author of Bears: Wild Guide, and the Gideon Stoltz mystery series, including Nighthawk's Wing and Lay This Body Down.
"Paul Schullery, with his always lyrical, thoughtful and, at times, witty prose, has been one of the best modern observers of wild creatures and places. He bestows bruins with the respect they deserve and reminds us that the responsibility of coexistence is on us. The Bear Doesn't Know is a wonderful read that stays with you long after you turn the last pages." ---Todd Wilkinson, coauthor of Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek.
April 2021: Real Work: The Ditchman's Tale, a novella of the 'sixties
I'm inexpressibly pleased to tell you that my novella, Real Work, has finally escaped my computer and become a real book. I was inspired to publish it now in good part by recollecting what my late, lamented friend Ken Cameron, a gifted and prolific novelist, once hilariously told me: that he hated "dragging old, unpublished books about like Marley's cashboxes." Right you were, Ken; get the work out there!
Anyway, Real Work is a story I've spent the occasional happy time tinkering with for many years now. It's yet another work of fiction from what I think of as my "I always wanted to write this" list, which has previously included a mystery novel, a science fiction novella, two books of fishing fiction, and other stories scattered here and there in the most obscure corners of the popular press.
This time around I've written a fictional memoir set in the restless late 1960s: the recollections of an old man looking back on his entertaining, startling, and surprisingly instructive adventures doing real work, i.e., manual labor, in the company of a remarkable crew of men for whom such real work was a way of life.
Here's some blurbish promotional talk that sets the mood:
Real Work honors and evokes the long days, muddy crafts, shrewd stoicism, and sad laughter of the ditch-digging life. In the late 1960s, while the rest of America gutted itself over social injustice and a faraway war, a university escapee nicknamed "Doc" put in a slow, illuminating year with a memorable crew of bottom-rung blue-collar workers. But after months of alternating hard work and boredom, there came a week so full of drama, slapstick, and peril—so "complete and inexhaustible in its possibilities for wonder"—that suddenly his year of real work made perfect sense.
And here are a couple kind and complimentary advance notices of the book:
Paul Schullery's tale is beautifully descriptive and humorous, with wonderfully cast characters.--- Lisa M. Owens, author of Worth the Coming Home and Worth the Seeing Through
Real Work is a quietly beautiful book: honest, poignant, and exceedingly well written. It offers ample wisdom as well as humor – some wry, some belly-laugh-inducing. A thread of understated ominousness runs through the story, as workmen on a water crew in a small prairie town contend with powerful machines, collapsing ditch walls, and their own interactions as they reveal "the real innards of civilization" when digging holes "into the secret earth." The true power of the fiction emerges as the main character, known as "Doc" to his fellow laborers, gradually discovers "the strange depth of my loyalty to these men whose world I would never fully inhabit."--- Charles Fergus, author of the Gideon Stoltz mystery series, including A Stranger Here Below and Nighthawk's Wing
February 2021: Update on The Bear Doesn't Know
The folks at the University of Nebraska Press have done a swell job getting this book ready for publication (a good copy editor is a higher form of human being). I'm just now waiting to see the final page proofs. I love the cover we've come up with, featuring a detail from a grand oil painting of a big grizzly bear in a high, rocky setting, by the great Carl Rungius. The book is now listed as forthcoming (and the cover is shown) in the press's on-line catalog, email@example.com. It is scheduled for September, 2021, publication.
Summer 2020: A new bear book in the works
I'm pleased to report that my book The Bear Doesn't Know: Life and Wonder in Bear Country, is to be published next year by the University of Nebraska Press. The book, which features many previously published stories and essays as well as about as much newly written material, is my best shot at a portrayal of all it has meant to me to be lucky enough to live and travel in bear country all of my adult life.
An especially satisfying thing about doing a book like this, which is in good part retrospective, is that I get to review and reconsider what I've thought and written in the past. Most of the previously published parts of the book have thus been substantially revised. The literary bear is a moving target, and when I chose the pieces for this new book it was satisfying and rewarding to look back on how I used to see bears and compare it with what I've learned since. I never tire of these magical creatures, so there's always more to learn, to think about, and to write.
Ever since I started reading and writing about the nature and history of the American West, some half a century ago, I've been a big admirer of the University of Nebraska Press. The Bear Doesn't Know will appear under their venerable Bison Books imprint, making it part of one of the West's foremost publishing traditions. Also, it was a treat once again to work with editor Clark Whitehorn in shaping and signing up this book. Clark and I worked together on a previous UNP book almost twenty years ago, when he oversaw the publication of a book that Yellowstone Park Historian Lee Whittlesey and I wrote, Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park (2003). Since then, as Clark has moved around the West working for various other presses, including the Montana Historical Society Press and the University of New Mexico Press, we've worked together on a number of other books. It's fun to keep this creative partnership going now that he's back at Nebraska.
Spring 2020, an award for our article
Last February, Andrew Herd and I were notified by Sarah Foster, Executive Director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, in Manchester, Vermont, that our two-part article on the oldest-known flies (see below: "Spring 2019: Studying the World's Oldest Flies") was being honored with the museum's Austin Hogan Award as outstanding article of the year in the museum's splendid journal, The American Fly Fisher. Sarah generously described Andrew and me as "true scholars and authentic historians of the highest order and your prose in the articles is fresh, sparkling and engaging."
We all made big plans to get together in June for an award presentation at the Anglers' Club of New York, but alas, the pandemic put the kibosh on all that, so the museum folks just shipped the awards to us. I'm sorry to have missed that chance to visit with my museum friends, but it was only one of many planned trips that will have to wait for another, presumably more sane, year.
The award is named in honor of the museum's original curator, the late Austin Hogan, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Austin was a very influential angling historian for many years, as well as being the first editor of The American Fly Fisher (1974-1978). The award itself is a handsome lucite stand featuring a lovely little original watercolor of a trout fly by Austin, who was known for his many artistic portrayals of historic fly patterns.
Thanks to all, and especially to the article's lead author, Andrew Herd, who did most of the work.
September 2019, A Fish Come True
I'm pleased to report that at the end of September my friends at Stackpole Books will publish my new book of fishing stories. A Fish Come True: Fables, Farces, and Fantasies for the Hopeful Angler is a collection of fiction "What-if stories" that means to offer heartening if sometimes cautionary answers to our dreams and hopes about this lovely, compelling sport. What if some gifted fly tier discovered the holy grail of that craft, a fly that always worked, catching a fish on every cast? What if we could travel back in time to fish anywhere in the past? What if we could fish on another planet? In A Fish Come True I explore such questions and quite a few others in a series of what I suppose I should call genre fictions. Some of these pieces were published in magazines, and one, "Shupton's Fancy," even previously appeared as a little book of its own. Three or four are new, written especially for this book.
Here's some of my introduction to the book, to convey the mood of what I'm up to this time:
"I imagine most of us find it satisfying, even unavoidable, to exercise our wildest hopes about fishing. It's yet another way we can enjoy this wonderful sport even when we're not out there blundering around on our favorite stream. And in that spirit I offer this book, which explores at least a few of the hopes, fears, laughs, surprises, and ironies that might arise from the fulfillment of our angling dreams.
"Having only a passing interest in considering such possibilities in any disciplined or lofty way—what is a happy ending, anyway?—I have instead gone for atmosphere, provocation, and whimsy. And though as I read these stories now it looks to me like whimsy mostly wins out, there are spots in some of them that do aim for something a little more substantial. When the final story in the bunch, 'Shupton's Fancy,' was originally published, the reviewers and blurbers were gratifyingly generous about its depths. Someone even used the wondrous term "literature." I couldn't ask for more than that."
The cover art, by the way, is a detail from one of Eldridge Hardie's beautiful paintings. Eldridge previously illustrated another of my books, Royal Coachman (1999), and I'm honored by his involvement in this one.
There you go. It will also be available as an e-book.
Spring, 2019: Studying the World's Oldest Known Flies
Alert: here's news that will bore the living daylights out of everyone except hard-core fly fishers, and may even be a reach for some of them. I've teamed up on a fly-fishing history project with Andrew Herd, a good friend from northern England who is also one of the world's foremost experts on the history of sport fishing. After many years of discussing this project through emails and during several visits back and forth, we've produced a long two-part article on the oldest flies at the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester, Vermont, or anywhere else, as far as we know. Known as the Harris Collection for noted Irish entomologist and fishing writer John Richard Harris who owned the flies for quite a while in the mid-1900s, some of these patterns date from the late 1700s. This is an extraordinary and nearly unimaginable longevity for such vulnerable productions of a craft whose output is usually consumed or at least destroyed quite promptly by fish. Worse, any flies that don't get used up by being cast are vulnerable to immediate attacks by insects who sneak into the best-stored fishing tackle and chew all the organic matter off the hooks.
These flies have interested Andrew and me for many years. Thanks to invaluable historical advice and photographic support by our fellow angling historian Ken Cameron, we have been able to conduct the first reasonably thorough analysis of these wonderful flies. And thanks to the participation of master fly tier Robert Frandsen, an Australian gifted at re-creating historic fly patterns, we are able to present accurate reconstructions of dozens of trout and salmon fly patterns that were in use by our angling ancestors more than two centuries ago.
Rather than paraphrase the articles here, I'll just summarize a few points. For one thing, many of these flies are surprisingly modern looking, even to the extent that we're confident saying that at least a few of them were almost certainly fished dry (more than a century before the famous dry-fly books of Frederic Halford and his associates). For another, a close examination of dozens of such old flies provides us with an unprecedented window into the fly-tying styles, preferences, materials, and intentions of anglers whose activities we have only been vaguely aware of until now. For yet another, having at hand such old flies has given us a clearer understanding of the intentions and instructions of the fly-fishing books that were being published in the late 1700s and earlier.
All in all, if you're at all curious about how we anglers have come to think and act the way we do these articles may contain some interesting information and surprises for you. Here are the citations to the articles, which were published earlier this year in the venerable journal of the American Museum of Fly Fishing:
Andrew Herd and Paul Schullery, "The Oldest Flies Part I: In Which the Extraordinary Harris Fly Collection's Origins are Finally Discovered," The American Fly Fisher, Winter, 2019, 4-13; and Andrew Herd and Paul Schullery, "The Oldest Flies Part II: In Which the Harris Flies are Sorted and Replicated," The American Fly Fisher, Spring, 2019, 2-10. To get copies of these articles, and to learn more about the good work of the museum, go to their website, www.amff.org.
January, 2019: Forewords to some great books
There are few things more flattering for a writer than to be asked to write a foreword for another writer's book. I've enjoyed that high honor a couple dozen times over the years, but never with more excitement than recently, when I've been invited to write forewords for some wonderful books.
First, in the Spring of 2018 I provided a foreword for a new edition of Dr. Stephen Herrero's milestone book, Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, published by the Lyons Press. Since 1985 when the first edition of this uniquely valuable book was published, hundreds of thousands of hikers, birders, sportsmen, scientists, and other people who inhabit bear country have benefited from its wisdom. Here's how I summarize Bear Attacks in my foreword: "In a lifetime of exploring the scientific and popular literature of bears, I have found no other publication that has done as much to illuminate the world of the wild bear, or to inspire in readers the necessary fortitude and commitment needed to respect, preserve, and get along with these precious animals. Much more than a guide to living safely in bear country, it is an incomparable introduction to the complete bear: how they live, why they behave the way they do, and why they are so important to us." I can't add much to that except to say that I'm inordinately proud to be asked to write the foreword for it. If you have anything at all to do with the world of bears, or even if you just care about them from a distance, do yourself and the bears a favor and rush right out and get a copy.
A few years ago I was pleased to serve on the organizing committee of a grand International Trout Congress, which was held here in Bozeman in October, 2016. This event brought together dozens of experts from many disciplines and many parts of the world to discuss a host of issues relating to the status and future of the world's trout populations. There had never been a trout-related conference this comprehensive, which is saying a lot considering how often these beautiful animals have inspired people to get together and consider the many cultural, economic, and ecological aspects of the world's trout. Lucky for all of us, and especially for the trout, this congress's influence will continue to be felt and will reach far beyond those of us who attended. The American Fisheries Society has just published a splendidly enormous volume of papers (777 pages!) based on the conference: Jeffrey L. Kershner, Jack E. Williams, Robert E. Gresswell, and Javier Lobon-Cervia, editors, Trout and Char of the World. For some reason, they asked me to write the foreword, which, in the face of such a powerful array of real expertise, I was both pleased and intimidated to do. I say about this book pretty much the same thing I just said about Steve Herrero's bear book: if you care about trout, and if authoritative information is important to you, get this book.
Fifty or so years ago, when I first started reading a lot about nature and outdoor sport, the first artist whose work captivated me was Eldridge Hardie. His paintings of a great variety of scenes and outdoor sports struck me just right. Over the years, Eldridge and I have become long-distance friends. He illustrated the first edition of my book Royal Coachman (1999), and has provided the cover art for my just-published A Fish Come True. All that being said, you can imagine how pleased I was to be asked to write a foreword for his beautiful new book, The Sporting Art of Eldridge Hardie: Paintings of Upland Hunting, Angling, and Waterfowling, which will be published by Stackpole Books very soon now, on November 1. Here's how I summed up this great book in my foreword: "A new book of Eldridge Hardie's paintings is great cause for celebration, not only among sportsmen but among all who love the natural world. His portrayals of wild places and the creatures that inhabit them evoke for all of us the finest joys of a life in nature, just as they inspire new generations of artists who are still searching for their own artistic paths and visions."
December, 2018, new book of fishing stories to be published by Stackpole Books
I've received word from my friend and publisher Judith Schnell, at Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that my collection of fishing fiction, tentatively entitled A Fish Come True: Tales, Fables, and Fantasies for the Hopeful Angler, has been accepted for publication. With a little luck the book will be out in the fall of 2019, but in any case I will keep readers informed of its imminent appearance.
This is a project I've wanted to do for a long time. It includes a mix of previously published stories that have been revised or rewritten for this occasion as well as several new pieces that I've long wanted to write and finally got around to.
It's a great pleasure for me to be working with Judith and all the other nice folks at Stackpole again. While on the one hand embracing all the new technologies and directions of modern publishing, they continue to exemplify the highest professional standards of a traditional press.
November, 2018, a personal tribute to a great angler and dear friend
Fly-fishing enthusiasts might enjoy my tribute to the late Leon Martuch (1928-2018), which was just published in The American Fly Fisher, the journal of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester, Vermont. Leon may be best remembered for his work with his father in revolutionary innovations in fly-fishing tackle, perhaps most notably the development and standardization of the modern plastic-coated fly lines that we now all take for granted. For many years president of Scientific Anglers and leader in various coldwater conservation organizations, Leon served two extraordinarily productive terms as president of the American Museum of Fly Fishing while I was executive director of that splendid little institution in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The museum and I benefited from his enormous savvy about the fishing-tackle industry, his management wisdom, and his unfailing sense of humor.
My tribute, "Leon Martuch, 30 April 1928 - 14 July 2018," can be found on pages 23-24 in the fall, 2018, issue of The American Fly Fisher. And by the way, if you're a fly fisher you should considering joining the museum, which during the past 50 years has done more than any other individual, group, or organization to preserve the historic traditions of the sport of fly fishing. To acquire a copy of the journal or to get more information or join, go to www.amff.org
October, 2018, audio book of Diamond Jubilee
This month Marsha and I had an unexpected treat in reviewing the chapters of the audio book edition of Diamond Jubilee, read by British professional voice Nick Palmerly. After striking up an email conversation with Nick just as he was starting to record the book, he and I agreed that it would be a good idea (and fun) for him to send me via email each newly recorded chapter as he finished it. This turned into a process in which I think I learned a lot more about spoken "England English" than he learned about spoken "American English." As a writer this was a fascinating experience for me. It wasn't my first audio book, but it's the first time I had a chance to be so involved in the process. Also, it's my first fiction audiobook and Nick's a superb reader, so getting to "hear" the voices of all the characters in Diamond Jubilee, who come from many parts of British and American society, brought my own writing to life for me in a way I hadn't expected. Though I was pretty confident about my written portrayals of so many people's dialects and accents and so on, Nick's recorded performance of all those people actually talking out loud was both instructive and exciting for me.
The audio book is now available from the same on-line sources as the paperback and the e-book, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Nor can I thank Nick Palmerly enough for his sympathetic portrayal of my Holmes, Watson, Clemens, and so many other characters in the book.
September 2018, Diamond Jubilee now available from London publisher
I'm pleased more than I can say that my Sherlock Holmes novel Diamond Jubilee, which I first published through Amazon.com/Createspace.com a while back, has been republished in a handsome and highly readable new edition by MX Publishing, a London publisher that specializes in Holmesiana and new Holmes stories. It says something about the enduring popularity of our friends at 221B Baker Street that there continues to be a hefty demand for new tales of their adventures, and MX Publishing does a splendid job of meeting that demand. This new edition of Diamond Jubilee is, like the previous edition, widely available from the usual on-line outlets.
I'm also happy to report that MX chose my wife Marsha Karle's artwork, which she painted for the original edition, for the cover of the new edition. Her portrait of the monument to Queen Victoria (in the square in front of Buckingham Palace) and her silhouettes of Sherlock Holmes and Mark Twain appear on the new cover (see image to the left) against a backdrop of the Union Jack.
August, 2016, Mark Twain Forum approves of Diamond Jubilee
I can't speak for any other writers, but when I'm working on a book I often find myself writing to some specific audience. This is a more or less involuntary process; as I write, it just dawns on me where I seem to be aiming the book. Usually the audience I have in mind is a fairly specific group of people, and once or twice it's even been an individual.
I imagine that people in the publishing industry would warn me that having such a narrow focus isn't necessarily good for sales, but there it is. It's how I seem to do it. More important, it's how I like to do it, and I'm not sure I could change if I tried.
When I was writing Diamond Jubilee, my recent Sherlock Holmes/Mark Twain novel, if I had any specific audience in mind, I was especially hopeful that the book would find its way to enthusiastic readers of Mark Twain, and, of course, that some of them might like it. A recent review of the book gives me hope that they will.
One of the great clearing houses of news and information for Mark Twain readers and scholars is the Mark Twain Forum, a very hospitable website (http://www.twainweb.net) that provides a spectacular array of Twain-related services, including many reviews of the continuous flood of new books relating to Mark Twain. As a happy member and steady reader of the Mark Twain Forum, getting a good review from them was about as far as my hopes could go for Diamond Jubilee.
So I was really tickled when, on August 29, the Forum published a kind and thoughtful review by veteran historical novelist, Tim Champlin, whose perspective, based on a long successful career writing novels, means a lot to me. Among other things, he said that "This is a fun read. Paul Schullery is an accomplished professional. He has a smooth narrative style that moves the story along while providing all the small asides and details necessary to picture what is happening and to feel the elation, pain, fear, and confusion of the characters." I worked very hard at setting the right mood for Diamond Jubilee, especially in getting the tone, setting, and details right, and I'm delighted that Mr. Champlin approved: "Paul Schullery is a novelist who does all the little things right. For an author who writes historical fiction, using small details correctly and in the right proportion is critical to creating a world where a reader can find a comfortable escape," adding later that "Paul Schullery has done his homework and does not disappoint. The mannerisms, dialogue, dress and habits of both men are correct down to the last detail."
So, my thanks to the Forum and to Mr. Champlin. If you'd like to read the full review, it's here: http://www.twainweb.net/reviews/DiamondJubilee.html
June, 2016, Diamond Jubilee, a new Sherlock Holmes novel, teams Holmes and Watson with Mark Twain during Queen Victoria's historic jubilee celebration.
I've always been an enthusiast of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I often thought it would be fun to write one. It turns out I was right; it's a great treat to write a story in the Holmes tradition. Writing Diamond Jubilee was even more fun than writing The Time Traveler's Tale. The original Holmes stories, the so-called "canon," have become the heart of an immense body of literature—pastiches, parodies, tributes, and a host of studies both light-hearted and intensely scholarly—that testify to the joyous fascination we have with our friends at 221B, Baker Street.
The adventure begins in June, 1897, on the eve of the greatest celebration in the history of London—the Diamond Jubilee of Her Royal Highness Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India. At 221B Baker street, happy anticipation of the event is shattered when an alarmed Samuel Clemens bursts in and informs Holmes and Watson that his life is threatened by a bizarre international conspiracy. Holmes, Watson, and Clemens spend the frantic final days before the Jubilee discovering that the conspiracy is much worse than Clemens imagined. The very fate of the Empire is at stake. Replete with brilliant Holmesian insights and London underworld adventuring, Diamond Jubilee features a host of colorful Victorian characters, including a bewitching London "crime queen," British Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Mycroft Holmes, Scotland Yard's best and worst, the Baker Street Irregulars (themselves infiltrated by unknown sinister elements), and thousands of the most appalling rats.
November, 2015, Marsha's Art from Paul's Books: need a print/card/t-shirt/tote bag/shower curtain?
My spouse and best friend, Marsha Karle, and I are pleased to announce that Marsha's new website, marsha-karle.artistwebsites.com, features lots of her pencil drawings and watercolors that appeared in my books. All of these images, plus many other superb watercolors by Marsha, can be ordered in a great variety of print formats, as well as cards, t-shirts, tote bags, and even (I'm not making this up) shower curtains!
It's been great fun to see all this wonderful art made available in so many ways; we've checked out the quality of these things and we're really impressed. Marsha is busily posting more of the images from Yellowstone Bear Tales; This High, Wild Country; The Rise; Royal Coachman; and other books that we've worked on together.
To go directly to Marsha's website, just click on the link to "Marsha Karle Fine Art" on my home page.
February, 2015, Past and Future Yellowstones published by the University of Utah Press
My Wallace Stegner Lecture, "Past and Future Yellowstones: Finding Our Way in Wonderland," which presented in March, 2014, at the Nineteenth Annual Symposium of the University of Utah's Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, has just been published. The folks at the University of Utah Press have done a lovely job transforming an extended version of the lecture into a handsome little book (or a booklet, depending upon your definition of a book), which should be available soon and is already listed on Amazon.com and elsewhere.
It was a great honor to be invited to give this important lecture, and I'm very excited about it having an additional life and audience beyond that of the Symposium. The lecture gave me a great opportunity to synthesize and summarize some of my recent thinking on the history and fate of national parks, as exemplified by Yellowstone. I'm very pleased with how the book came out; I even got to add a few of my own photographs to ornament the text a little.
October, 2014, Induction into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame
In October, 2014, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum, in Livingston Manor, New York did me the astonishing honor of inducting me into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, stating that "Paul Schullery, fly-fishing's preeminent historian, has been a pioneer of the study of the cultural foundations of our sport and the values upon which it depends. As a lifelong professional conservationist, he has effectively championed a host of natural resources, all of which related to the protection of the fly fisher's world. As a writer he has published path-breaking literary and scholarly explorations of the richness of the fly-fishing experience."
To my lasting disappointment, the day of the induction ceremony Marsha and I were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a long-planned and non-adjustable trip, so I was unfortunately unable to attend. Luckily, a friend, New Yorker George Black, author of several excellent books on conservation, natural history, and trout fishing, was kind enough to stand in for me and accept the honor on my behalf. A few days later, after our ship landed in New York, Marsha and I drove directly to the Catskills to visit with the wonderful folks there and thank them for this great honor. This fun visit did help make the whole thing seem a little more real to me, but it was still hard to imagine that I was really seeing my name on a plaque among the plaques of the genuinely great names from the sport's history. All I could say was "amazing" and be grateful for the stupendous compliment.
For more about the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum, a fine institution that richly deserves the support of the fly-fishing community, go to http://www.catskillflyfishing.org
Spring, 2014, happy reviews of The Fishing Life
The Fishing Life, published in 2013, has received some very nice early reviews. Writing in the Spring, 2014 issue of The American Fly Fisher, Jim Merritt, angling historian and scholar of the American West, says that "Paul Schullery is unique among contemporary authors who write about fly fishing. He is not a fly-fishing writer per se, but a historian, naturalist, and philosopher whose fishing informs his writing but isn't always central to it. He is difficult, maybe impossible, to pigeonhole and emphatically not a writer of the how-to, where-to variety." These are apparently traits that Mr. Merritt approves of, as his review is a generous and supportive summary of many of the points I make and stories I tell in the book.
A thoughtful review in Montana Quarterly is likewise very complimentary, concluding that "Schullery's passion for wild landscapes and wild fish runs through every page of this collection, and his close attention to the details of the natural world reminds us of all that we love about being outdoors."
March, 2014, delivering the Wallace Stegner Lecture at the University of Utah
On March 26, it was my great honor to deliver the annual Wallace Stegner Lecture at the Nineteenth Annual Symposium of the University of Utah's Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, "National Parks: Past, Present and Future." My lecture, entitled "Past and Future Yellowstones: Finding Our Way in Wonderland," was a rumination on the many purposes to which Yellowstone has been put since its founding, and how those purposes have broadened and deepened over time.
I was as grateful to be able to attend this extraordinary conference as to be invited to deliver the lecture. It was an exciting gathering of some of the brightest and most influential people in the park business today, which meant that it was a welcome opportunity for Marsha and me to renew some great old acquaintances.
I am especially pleased to report that the lecture will be published as a small book by the University of Utah Press next winter.
Winter, 2014, This High, Wild Country praised and featured in the premier issue of the University of Montana Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone E-Magazine
Marsha and I were delighted when the editors of UM's gorgeous new e-magazine asked if they could feature our book This High, Wild Country: A Celebration of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in their first issue. This includes both a review of the book and a showcase of the book's art and text.
Magazine Co-editor Jerry Fetz begins his review by describing the book as "'the gift that keeps on giving,'—to the International Peace Park, to all of us in love with this spectacular, rich, and complex piece of nature, and to all of us who have the good fortune of taking this book into our hands and beginning our adventure with it." He concludes that our book "is a real star in the ever-growing list of important publications" about these magnificent parks, and encourages everyone "to buy it for yourselves or as gifts for others who already know or should get to know the fascinating international park."
Co-editor Fetz's gratifying review is followed by a full six-page spread featuring many of Marsha's beautiful watercolors—landscapes, local scenes, flowers, wildlife, even one of the park's famous red buses—from the book, accompanied by excerpts from my text.
A great advantage of an e-magazine is that you don't have to stack up the back issues in your basement; you can just sign on to its website and enjoy any back issue you like. So take a look at this wonderful combination review and art feature, and get to know this beautiful new e-magazine about our region while you're at it:
December 20, 2013: Yellowstone Bear Tales highly recommended in review in Ranger
Yellowstone Bear Tales received a splendid review in Ranger, the journal of the Association of National Park Rangers. Reviewer Rick Smith, former president of the Association of National Park Rangers and the International Ranger Federation, described the book as ""a fun read . . . . Schullery, a former Yellowstone employee, has collected some of the best bear stories from Yellowstone's history. His research took him to the park archives, into extended conversations with park historians and bear management specialists, and to area newspapers for the stories themselves. A real bonus in this book are the sketches of bears done by Paul's wife, Marsha Karle, an award-winning nature artist and former Yellowstone employee. Also included are numerous historic photographs that illustrate the attitudes that people, including rangers themselves, had toward bears. It's a fascinating glimpse." Rick concluded that "I highly recommend its purchase."
The full review can be seen in Ranger, the Journal of the Association of National Park Rangers 30(1), Winter 2013-2014, page 23.
December 1, 2013: Yellowstone Bear Tales excerpted in Big Sky Journal
Most people in our region are familiar with Big Sky Journal, one of the most popular and handsome magazines published in the American West. I'm especially pleased that they've chosen to feature several chapters from Yellowstone Bear Tales in their winter issue, on newsstands now. The article includes some of the great historical photographs from the book, as well as the cover of the book, featuring Marsha's wonderful watercolor portrait of a big male grizzly bear.
If you're interested in the book, here's an opportunity to read a few sample chapters.
Late Summer, 2013: American Bears receives splendid review in IBA Newsletter
The 2012 edition of American Bears: Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt has received a heartening and thoughtful review in International Bear News, the newsletter of the International Association for Bear Research and Management, the leading organization for bear researchers and managers. Reviewer Lance Craighead said that "this is a delightful little book that gives us a clear window into the beginnings of scientific game management in North America," adding, "This book is a fun read, and a great contribution to bear literature. I highly recommend it, not only for its information on bears, but for its insights on Theodore Roosevelt. It's hard to imagine any modern-day politicians, with their canned hunts, photo ops, and disregard for hunter safety, having a similar appreciation for the natural world."
For the full review, see International Bear News, Summer 2013, 22(2), 39.
September 5, 2013: Yellowstone Bear Tales now available on Amazon in paperback or in the Kindle edition
The new and greatly enlarged edition of Yellowstone Bear Tales is available in a handsome trade paperback and as a Kindle book through Amazon.com, as well as from local booksellers and other on-line booksellers.
It's always exciting to keep a good book alive; as long as there are new visitors showing up at Yellowstone's gates, there will be plenty of people to enjoy these vintage stories. Originally published in 1991, this collection of early accounts of Yellowstone bears outlived my earlier book The Bears of Yellowstone even though I always saw it as a companion volume for that more "important" book. People love bear stories, and this book contained scores of them, written by a great cast of early Yellowstone characters: explorers, hunters, tourists, rangers, naturalists, and pretty much anyone else who might have run into the park's bears back when they were more or less permanent residents around the park developments and along the roadsides. The book finally went out of print a few years ago, giving me the opportunity to revise and expand it to include quite a few new stories that I'd either not had room for last time or hadn't even been aware of twenty years ago.
It was especially satisfying to collaborate with my spouse, the gifted artist Marsha Karle, on this one. Marsha provided the dramatic cover portrait of a big grizzly bear, and many of the black-and-white illustrations in the book as well (for more on Marsha's work, go to her website, marsha-karle.artistwebsites.com).
For more information and an excerpt from Yellowstone Bear Tales click the book's title in the right-hand column, or see the Winter Issue of Big Sky Journal, which has excerpted several chapters and some of the historical photographs.
June 20, 2013: Reading and Signing for The Fishing Life
The nice folks at the Country Bookshelf, 28 West Main Street, here in Bozeman, hosted a get-together on June 20, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. I read some representative tales from The Fishing Life, and Marsha (the illustrator) and I both signed copies. Those of you who live in the Bozeman area know what a grand and important institution the Country Bookshelf has been in our community for the past couple generations. Marsha and I always look forward to whatever time we spend in that joyously bookish atmosphere. Our thanks to all of you who attended and so graciously listened, and laughed at almost all the right times. It was great to have time to visit with you afterwards, too. And thanks again to the Country Bookshelf.
May 3, 2013: Honorary doctorate from Ohio University
On May 3, my alma mater Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, presented me with an honorary doctorate of letters at their graduate commencement, in recognition of my work as a writer and conservationist. This was one of those moments in life when you keep thinking, "There must be some mistake; surely something this nice was supposed to happen to someone else; but maybe if just keep my mouth shut I'll get away with it." (for more on the doctorate, go to Biography/Honors and Awards).
Our time in Athens was a wonderful treat. Ohio University President McDavis and his staff were the most gracious of hosts. My mother, Judith Schullery, who lives in Lancaster about 45 miles from Athens, attended commencement, as did my brother Steve and spouse Nancy, who came down from Michigan for the festivities. One of many fun moments was during my thank-you remarks, when I introduced my mother and asked her to stand. An alert lighting technician instantly put a spotlight on her and several thousand people applauded heartily; she was delighted, and it was a high point for the family. Long-time Lancaster pals Deb and Dave Smith and Judy and Jim Edwards honored us by attending commencement, and the whole thing was just thrilling for me. We also got to spend nearly a day with our dear Athens friends Kate Fox and Bob DeMott, soaking up the beautiful spring weather and scenery of Athens.
Other New and Recent Books
2013: The Fishing Life: An Angler's Tales of Wild Rivers and Other Restless Metaphors
Books happen in many ways. This one happened because I finally accumulated enough of the right stories and essays on fishing to call it all a book. Over the past thirty years or so, in my rather scattershot approach to publishing I had put quite a few of my favorite fishing stories in books that weren't really aimed at fishermen. I had long hoped that some day I could sweep up all that material and put it in a book that fishermen might notice. Just in the past year or so, the copyright stars finally realigned appropriately so I could do just that. The result, I'm told, amounts to more than one of those "uncollected works" sort of collections that we writers occasionally feel obligated to put out; instead, the chapters hang together in a winding, diffuse, and yet satisfyingly unified memoir of life spent in the company of some of the most famous (and obscure) trout waters of the country. I'm also pleased with it because it's my sixth collaboration with my spouse, Marsha Karle, who provided the charming chapter-opening pencil illustrations.
A chapter from The Fishing Life is previewed on Midcurrent, a swell fishing website at http://midcurrent.com/books/dithering-over-dogs. Another chapter appears in the August-September issue of Fly Fisherman magazine starting on page 64.
2012: The Time Traveler's Tale: Chronicle of a Morlock Captivity.
The whole process of doing this book was a hoot. I've been an enthusiastic science-fiction and fantasy reader since I was young and discovered many of the authors whose works we now regard as classics: Wells, Verne, Morris, Burroughs, Dunsany, Asimov, Tolkien, and many others. But H.G. Wells' The Time Machine was always a special favorite of mine, probably because, like so many other readers over the past century, I couldn't help wondering what happened next in that wonderful story; Wells' open-ended conclusion was so tantalizing that we couldn't help ourselves. So I decided to find out for myself by writing a sequel in which I preserved as much as I could of the voice, mood, and style of the original book. I was hardly the first to write a sequel to The Time Machine, and now that I've done it I better understand the attraction of doing such a thing. To immerse oneself in a universally admired story like that and try to combine the sensitivities of the original work with one's own is a daunting undertaking, but it's absorbing, even compelling, work. The Time Traveler's Tale is available in paperback and as a Kindle book on Amazon.com, where it currently enjoys a five-star rating.
2012, NEW EDITION: American Bears: Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt
I've always been especially fond of this collection. TR wrote vividly about hunting and natural history. In fact, his tone, style, and intensity were reminiscent of John Muir's wilderness books. But this book sticks in my memory for other quirkier reasons, too. For one thing, when it came out thirty years ago it had the odd publishing distinction of appearing simultaneously in editions from the University of Colorado and the Outdoor Life Book Club; this was not an easy audience overlap to achieve. Eventually, it moved to another publisher and after a nice long run it went out of print. I was pleased to revive it through the Authors Guild, whose members are entitled to resurrect out-of-print books through their Backinprint.com program. The cover of the new edition features a handsome historic late-Ninetenth Century engraving of a grizzly bear's head that my spouse Marsha Karle has hand-tinted beautifully with watercolors. It's a great effect.