Over the course of a year, many Maine-related books cross my desk. Among them are novels by acclaimed authors like Paul Doiron, how-to and where-to fish volumes by some of the top anglers around, and a fair number of self-published books.
Not long ago, I received a book by longtime local angler and author Bob Leeman that I think many BDN readers — especially those of a certain age — will enjoy.
Leeman’s book, “Salesman Angler,” sounds like it’s a fishing book, and it is — to a point.
The author talks quite a bit about flies, trout and salmon, after all.
Its true appeal, however, is this: Readers old enough to remember when Bangor’s Hancock Street was a rough-and-tumble area, or to recall the days when every neighborhood had its own mom-and-pop drugstore, will find themselves walking down memory lane with Leeman.
The book is a memoir, supposedly about Leeman’s life as a traveling salesman who was always ready to wet a line in a nearby brook or pond.
But that’s only a small piece of “Salesman Angler.”
In the book, readers will meet many of Leeman’s friends from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. They’ll enjoy anecdotes about living during that formative time. And they might even find themselves longing for a simpler, less hectic era when adventure awaited right outside the front door.
Leeman takes readers along for the ride in a series of vignettes about people, places and, of course, fish.
From sales stops in The County to the Down East, Leeman met a lot of interesting people over the years. He also fished in a lot of beautiful places, and formed memories that resonate decades later.
Leeman is no stranger to outdoor readers, having written “Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon” with Dick Stewart, and having produced a solo effort “Fly Fishing Maine Rivers, Brooks and Streams.” He’s also a longtime member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
The book isn’t a flawless work of prose, as some stories are retold two or three times between the covers.
I felt like I was viewing a series of grainy, black-and-white “this is your life” snapshots, all focused on Maine “The Way Life Used to Be.”
And that was kind of cool.
Fact is, the approach works. Though I’d never met most of those people Leeman introduces, that didn’t matter. The places he describes still exist. The lakes and ponds, though different, are out there, waiting for the next angler to cast.
And as a person who enjoys hearing how people got from Point A to Point Z in their lives, I found the series of tales fascinating.
“Salesman Angler” was published by Maine Outdoor Publications in Ellsworth. Keep an eye out for it at your local bookstore.
Follow John on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke