Out of the Blue by Chris Yates; Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin; A Prickly Affair by Hugh Warwick; The Snow Tourist: A Search for the World’s Purest, Deepest Snowfall by Robert Macfarlane

Tom Fort Makes Four Natural Selections

  • Chris Yates, 
  • Roger Deakin, 
  • Hugh Warwick, 
  • Robert Macfarlane
 

Chris Yates is an elongated, somewhat cadaverous individual, with a forehead that seems to slope upwards for ever, a scrubby beard flecked with grey, and a gentle, humorous voice inclined to break into neighs of laughter. In the angling world he is famous as the man who caught the largest ever carp (a record since superseded, but only by force-fed, genetically modified freaks). He is also the best writer about fishing in the land.

For years Yates languished in poverty somewhere in Cranbourne Chase, kept going by income support and exiguous earnings from writing about and taking photographs of fish for specialist publications. Then some bright spark from Hamish Hamilton was alerted to his talent and commissioned him to write a short meditation about coarse fishing called – in typical Yates fashion – How to Fish. It was a delight and, for a fishing book, sold well. Now we have a sequel of sorts, even shorter, even more delightful.

In a way Out of the Blue represents an act of desertion, if not outright treachery. Everything else he has done has been about lakes and ponds and rivers, and the mysteries and marvels of freshwater. Some of his admirers may recoil from a passage in which he says of the

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