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Publisher's Summary

The classic novel of fly fishing and spirituality republished with a new afterword by the author.

Since its publication in 1983, The River Why has become a classic. David James Duncan's sweeping novel is a coming-of-age comedy about love, nature, and the quest for self-discovery, written in a voice as distinct and powerful as any in American letters.

Gus Orviston is a young fly fisherman who leaves behind his comically schizoid family to find his own path. Taking refuge in a remote cabin, he sets out in pursuit of the Pacific Northwest's elusive steelhead. But what begins as a physical quarry becomes a spiritual one as his quest for self-knowledge batters him with unforeseeable experiences.

Profoundly reflective about our connection to nature and to one another, The River Why is also a comedic roller coaster. Like Gus, the listener emerges utterly changed, stripped bare by the journey Duncan so expertly navigates.

©1983 David James Duncan (P)2016 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

"A veritable epic of flyfishing...done in a high-velocity, exuberant style, sprawling in scale, heedless of form.... The feeling for and evocation of the imperiled natural world is rhapsodic in its intensity; the writing energetic, literary in a distinctly American way.... So amiable is the prevailing tone that the flowing narrative is able to absorb Koranic and Eastern mysticisms, Tao, Sufism, Zen-the religions of oneness and gospel of love-without turning into the kind of maudlin choral chanting that so often disfigures treatments of fusion of self and the world." ( Publishers Weekly)
"This is a modern-repeat, modern -tale of maturity and redemption." ( Christian Science Monitor)
"A whirlwind, madcap, humorous and sensitive novel." ( New York Times)

What listeners say about The River Why

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  • Overall
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I Can't Listen to This

I have been trying. to listen to this book however the narrator just doesn't work wit the story. I am going to return the book.

6 people found this helpful

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Love the book, couldn't stand the narration.

I've read this book before. It's a wonderful book, right up any fisherman's alley but the narrator just didn't do it for me. It was like William Shatner acting out scenes on a river. Just odd with pauses, weird stuttering and rambling. Just nope.

But a truly fantastic book. Both of David James Duncans books are worth the read.

5 people found this helpful

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Distracting narrator but terrific story

Like many other reviewers I really disliked the style of narration by this narrator. Lots of odd stops, overly dramatic and weird emphasis on certain words. Felt like a bad actor was trying to impress someone with a dramatic reading. But the story was good enough that I survived the poor reading of it and found I could still enjoy the book in the end. I guess you get used to the weird narration after a while.

4 people found this helpful

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Dick Hill's labored reading is a buzzkill for me.

I'm going to give this highly acclaimed novel a Kindle try. Audible version doesn't work.

2 people found this helpful

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surprising read

The more a read the more I wanted to listen. An unusual storyline that was enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent narration of a beautiful book!

It took a chapter or two togrowonme but I love the narrator's interpetationofGus' voice and style.

1 person found this helpful

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Fun, easy storytelling

The story waxes philosophical about ideas of god using a fishing family without becoming a Big Fish story. There are quotes from other authors and thinkers at chapter starts that make the story more fine tuned along the way. It's an introspective journey with the narrator, so don't come looking for a complex plot. Just fishing thoughts. Good catch.

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You don't have to fly fish to love this book

In my humble opinion, the greatest coming of age story ever written. And the narrator is perfect.

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Great audible book

Wonderful story and Dick Hill as the narrator did an excellent job. I think if I read the book I would not have pictures the characters the same. Well done Mr Duncan and Mr. Hill for very entertaining stories and message. 👏👏

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Worth it.

It’s a slow start, but a great story. The narrator did an amazing job. This book is full of theology and philosophy with a fishing and love story woven in.