While father and son fishing trips can be the stuff of American legend, they can also turn out to be the stuff of anger, love and self-discovery. In his memoir of a fishing trip through the Alaskan wilderness, Lou Ureneck brings to life the struggle to reclaim the trust of his teenage son, Adam, following his divorce. Told against the backdrop of the Alaskan wilds, Backcast is the remembrance of a fishing trip that carried a father and son from the mountains of Alaska to the Bering Sea. Along the way, nature transforms from friend into foe, and their struggles are played out against the poignant emotional battle raging between the two as they descend the river headed toward confrontation. On their journey, the two encounter nature’s dangers — bears, violent river currents and ruthless, punishing weather — as well as the hurts that exist between them, the reasons for divorce, the absence of a father and the withheld love of a son.
Dipping his hand into the river of his own life, Ureneck recounts his own fatherless childhood, the influence of his mother’s boyfriend who helped him learn to fish, and the realization that he himself had done the one thing he always promised himself he would not do: He ended his marriage in divorce. Part adventure story, part reconciliation with life’s unexpected turns, and part commentary on the healing power of nature, Backcast explores the world of a man confronted by the hard choices divorce can bring to create a moving meditation on fatherhood.
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING:
"[A] thoughtful, engaging memoir...an enjoyable, heartfelt narrative."--Kirkus Reviews
“The unflinching terrain of the Alaskan interior has yielded an unflinching memoir, one of the finest meditations on fathers and sons that I’ve ever read. There’s nothing sentimental or sugarcoated here— it’s of a piece with the landscape where it’s set. But there is quiet redemption.”—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
“This is simply a fabulous book, as deep and true as the Alaskan waters that serve as its backdrop. It is an exciting adventure story. It is a profound story of the heart. It is warm and beautiful and so sweetly honest, a father fighting for his son, to know him, to regain him, in a way that will stay and linger long after the final page is turned.”—Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
“Think of crossing Tobias Wolff's dysfunctional upbringing in This Boy’s Life with Norman MacLean's metaphysical fly-fishing in A River Runs Through It (with admixtures of E.B. White's classic essay “Once More to the Lake” and Hemingway's “Big Two-Hearted River”— all of it going back more or less to Huck and Jim on the raft) and you get a rough idea of the territory, and of the high standard that Lou Ureneck has set for himself. But Ureneck's memoir has its own entirely distinctive flow of life: turbulent, painful, resilient, intelligent, gropingly moral, beautifully observed. It's hard to write about fathers and sons — or rather, it is hard for fathers and sons to write about one another. But Lou Ureneck has done it brilliantly. ”— Lance Morrow, author of The Chief: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons
“This is a very rich memoir: part outdoor adventure story, menacing bears and all; part travel book about the Alaskan outback; part fish story (in the most literal and informative sense); and part personal drama about a father re-bonding with his son." -- Justin Kaplan, Winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography