BODY OF WATER

A Sage, a Seeker, and the World's Most Alluring Fish

Chris Dombrowski

Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions—poetry and fly-fishing; two children, one of them in utero; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter, at this particularly challenging moment, a miraculous email: can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami.

Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide. Bonefish are prized for their elusiveness and their tenacity. And no one was better at hunting them than Pinder, a Bahamian whose accuracy and patience were virtuosic. He knows what the fish think,

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Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions—poetry and fly-fishing; two children, one of them in utero; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter, at this particularly challenging moment, a miraculous email: can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami.

Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide. Bonefish are prized for their elusiveness and their tenacity. And no one was better at hunting them than Pinder, a Bahamian whose accuracy and patience were virtuosic. He knows what the fish think, said one fisherman, before they think it.

By the time Dombrowski meets Pinder, however, he has been abandoned by the industry he helped build. With cataracts from a lifetime of staring at the water and a tiny severance package after forty years of service, he watches as the world of his beloved bonefish is degraded by tourists he himself did so much to attract. But as Pinder’s stories unfold, Dombrowski discovers a profound integrity and wisdom in the guide’s life.

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  • Milkweed Editions
  • Hardcover
  • October 2016
  • 232 Pages
  • 9781571313522

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$18.00

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About Chris Dombrowski

Born in Michigan, Chris Dombrowski earned his MFA from the University of Montana. He is the author of two collections of poems, and his poetry and nonfiction have been widely published. Also a fly-fishing guide, Dombrowski lives in Missoula, Montana.

Praise

“A brilliant book. Destined to be a classic.” —Jim Harrison

“Via the hearts of two men utterly in love with the wounded world in which their calling takes place, Body of Water pours forth beauties, subtleties, dark history, and insight with an unforced lyrical power I associate with no lesser word than ‘masterpiece.’ Dombrowski’s Michigan-to-Montana trajectory updates Jim Harrison, his comedic fishing scenes bear comparison to Thomas McGuane, and his powers of ebullient reflection bring to mind Mary Oliver—yet I’ve read no book anything like Body of Water, and enjoyed no book in memory more.” —David James Duncan

Discussion Questions

1. Why did Dombrowski name the book Body of Water? What different roles and significances does water have throughout the text?

2. David Pinder Sr. is described as “legendary.” Why is this word more apt than famous to describe the elder guide?

3. The value of local knowledge is an important thread in this book. What local knowledge do you have? And how would you share it with someone else?

4. Dombrowski describes hunting in this book as a dedication “to the occupation of being creaturely” (171-172). How would you define “being creaturely”?

5. Guiding, specifically guiding fishing trips, is considered from a number of different perspectives in this book. What does it mean to be a guide?

6. Two types of conservation are described in this book, one led by wealthy organizations and individuals, and another led by local citizens. Which do you think has more potential for long-term success?

7. Fishing is an occupation, a vocation, and a sport in Body of Water. Is there something in your life that operates similarly to the way angling does for Dombrowski?

8. Ecotourism is the backbone of the Bahamian economy. How does this growing form of travel benefit or imperil smaller countries?

9. David Pinder Sr. is both deeply spiritual and deeply religious. How do these characteristics inform his life?