by Scott Sadil
Greycliff Publishing Co., PO Box 1273, Helena, MT 59624; hardcover, $24.95
"This book was compiled from the journals of the legendary West Coast fly-fishing guru Francis Theodore Sepic," the author says. "Sepic's life remains mired in rumor, hearsay and mystique. Certainly, the greatest distortions regard Sepic's fishing abilities: He is a mediocre caster, improbably traditional and often painfully rough at the vise. But to hear others tell it, Francis Sepic the fly fisherman is a master, a virtuoso, a magician, or worse, a man who once dealt the devil his soul."
Unfortunately Sepic, the principal character of this story, doesn't quite measure up to that image. He emerges instead as a reformed surfer-turned-fly fisher who struggles to find room in his life for a wife, children, friends, relatives, work and fly fishing - not necessarily in that order. A good deal of his angst-ridden fishing existence is spent in pursuit of various saltwater species in Baja California, which is why this book may be of passing interest to readers of this magazine.
The book does contain some nice passages. "Fishing, by nature, implies mysteries that radiate in all directions," Sepic reflects at one point. "Rather than what a son learns from his father, there soon exists something that resounds back and forth between the two generations - something that they share. So in time, the truly lucky fisherman learns about fishing from the son he taught, discovers, one day, he is student as much as teacher, finds himself, ultimately, with a new fishing buddy, such that the two of them have achieved a level of intimacy whereby they learn from each other, not as father and son, but as men."
But the author also admits, "Sepic's story shared unnerving similarities with my own - even down to the name of his longtime fishing buddy, Peter, so that at times I suffered an acute sense of dislocation, as if my life belonged to someone else." The reader feels the same sense of dislocation; it's hard to tell whose story is being told here. Is this fiction, autobiography or one disguised as the other?
Either way, this is a small, harmless book that will offer a short diversion from your own struggle to find time for work, spouse, kids, friends, fly fishing or whatever else demands your attention.