Book Review: Ureneck's Backcast

When I finished Lou Ureneck’s new Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but take a hard look at my relationship with my son. That’s the kind of effect Ureneck achieves with precise writing and intense introspection (ever note how rarely these two things coexist?). According to this review by David Mehegan of the Boston Globe, however, his intention in writing Backcast was simply to help himself get over a nasty divorce. To the book’s credit, the author doesn’t wallow in a winless study of the reasons why he and his wife split, but instead chooses his relationships with his own parents and the evolution of his love for his son as his focus. “The book relates the history of Ureneck’s childhood, marriage, and divorce, but its narrative spine is the adventure on the river. Dropped off by float-plane at the source of the Kanektok, father and son inflate and load up a raft and start inexorably downstream through the dramatic landscape.”

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  • Sean

    I got through the first 100 pages of Backcast but, as many Alaskans did with with Krakauer’s “Into the Wild”, I was disturbed by Ureneck’s lack of preparation and respect for the country he’s in. That he doesn’t kill himself and/or his son is simply luck. This novel perpetuates the idea that you can be ill-prepared, venture into Alaska wilderness and end your trip a better person for it. Relying on luck keeps the search parties busy here.