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Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey

Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey by David JoyPublished in September 2011 by Bright Mountain Books, Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey delves into David Joy's obsession with fish. With a closer connection to fish than to humans, the author works to reveal why he is inherently defined by the piscine world. Topics range from environmentalism to family, Rousseau's "noble savage" to the ones that got away, places that remain wild to the worn cork of rods, the beauty of native trout to the art of fly tying. Ultimately, by revealing the reasons for his obsession, Joy is able to understand the man he has become.

Ron Rash, author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist Serena, had this to say about the memoir: "If any human could grow gills, it would be David Joy. His life-long connection to fish is vividly realized in this book, in large part because of his poetic language and sensibility. Growing Gills is a book anyone interested in our connection to the natural world will relish."

Bright Mountain BooksPamela Duncan, author of Plant Life and other novels, writes, "Attention fishing widows: if you've struggled in vain to understand man's obsession with fishing, you must read David Joy's memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey. In prose clean and clear as a mountain stream, Joy explores his own abiding love of fish and, by extension, the natural world that is their habitat. His passion is contagious and, even if you've never seen a trout in your life, by the end of this beautifully written book you can't help but feel a connection. You may even be tempted to take up a rod yourself."

Growing Gills by David JoyIn the early summer of 2010 Joy contacted a local artist, Michael Polomik, to commemorate the completion of Growing Gills. After receiving a degree in studio art from the University of Wilmington in 2005, Polomik began work at Western Carolina University's graduate program. Spanning numerous media, Polomik’s work traces visual and mental systems. Paths in which one might move, see, feel, or imagine often define or connect subjects, expressing a spiritual progression of growth and understanding. Combining the figural with conceptual space, Polomik's work on Growing Gills attempts to illuminate the themes of the memoir, while providing a visual addition to the text. To view all of Polomik's work on Growing Gills click here.

The book was released in September 2011 from Bright Mountain Books of Fairview, North Carolina.The book is available through all major retailers and can be ordered directly from Bright Mountain Books by visiting their site.Bookstores, libraries, and interested dealers can view marketing details, distribution plans, and ordering information from Blair Publishing's fall 2011 catalog by clicking here, and can place orders with John F. Blair, Ingram, Baker & Taylor Books, or Appalachian Book Service.

Bright Mountain Books, Inc.; 206 Riva Ridge Drive, Fairview, North Carolina 28730; 828.628.1768, 828.437.3959, Fax: 828.628.1755,

Awards and Praise for Growing Gills

• Finalist for the 2012 Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction

• Finalist for the 2012 Reed Environmental Writing Award

• Finalist for the 2012 Roosevelt-Ashe Society Conservation Award

• Nominated for a 2012 SIBA award

• "In Joy's ambitious moments, he uses fishing stories to move into philosophical terrain, pondering his heritage and wondering if humans can revert to a state of wildness. As the book proves, the act of fishing, being the predator in search of another living thing, brings the human closer to the natural world, from which some people feel separated." -Our State Magazine

• "Convergence with nature is a kind of religion, which becomes evident when Joy steers his book toward prophecy and enlightenment...The book is a classic to which readers will keep returning." -Asheville Citizen-Times

• "Comparisons to David James Duncan's classic The River Why are inevitable, but Joy distinguishes his work with a wit and wisdom all his own. His narrative is infused with poetic romanticism that will connect with anyone who's found happiness with a rod and reel." -WNC magazine

• "Joy offers readers both a paean to fishing and a memoir of his own days on the water. He takes us from the coast of North Carolina, where he fished as a boy with his family, to the creeks and rivers of our own mountains...Both amateur and veteran anglers may learn some good lessons from Joy's clear, clean prose." -Smoky Mountain News

• "The book speaks of larger truths, especially when it comes to one of his biggest concerns in this part of the world: development. In his opinion, that more than anything is encroaching upon his beloved wild world." -The Mountaineer

Order a copy of Growing Gills from your local Indie Bookstore

Joy strongly urges readers to buy their copies of Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey and all other books on their reading lists from their local independent bookstore. While copies are available through all major retailers, there has never been a more important time to support your local economy and the first step in this process is to patronize the stores owned by your neighbors. makes it easy for you to track down your local bookstore to buy a copy of Growing Gills. Just click the IndieBound logo to the right and follow the steps to "buy online from an indie bookstore." You can also get to the site by clicking here.