Books Of The Region: Fish, Gods, Outdoors

April 27, 1997|By James H. Bready | James H. Bready,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Had a fish been chosen as the national emblem instead of a big bird, George Reiger contends, we'd all be venerating the striped bass. (Would not Marylanders have defied any such statute, still calling them rockfish?) Stripers range the coasts, adapt to rivers, taste great.

Reiger, an editor at Field & Stream and the author of many books on angling, used to teach at the Naval Academy; one of the many good stories in "The Striped Bass Chronicles: The Saga of America's Great Game Fish" (Lyons & Burford, 192 pages, $22.95) has him catching some during 10-minute breaks between classes.

By his estimate, the Chesapeake Bay attracts 1.1 million resident anglers. In Maryland, following a collapse in striper numbers and the ensuing 1985-1990 angling moratorium, marine biologists announced a good recovery; fishing resumed. But today's length, catch and season limits favor the hunt for large (or "trophy") fish, and the big ones are vital to repopulation. Eloquently, Reiger warns of new depletion.


"The most recognizable sound in jazz," according to Hal Willard of Monkton, was Wild Bill Davison, who played cornet with Eddie Condon and other top bands, and whose "That's a Plenty" is one of the all-time great recordings. Armstrong, Beiderbecke - and Davison. Along the way, Wild Bill was a fierce individualist, with perfect pitch, five wives, musical illiteracy and death by booze and butts, at age 83.

Willard's biography, "The Wildest One: The Life of Wild Bill Davison" (Avondale Press, Box 531, Monkton 21111, 437 pages, $26.75) is long and knowledgeable, the tribute of a friend and admirer (and Washington newspaperman). The book glows with detail, candor and insight. And stories: "In nightclubs," says Willard, "I've seen women rise like cobras from a basket and sway before his horn."


In Baltimore, then for 18 years in Jerusalem, and now again in Baltimore, Jeanne N. Weisgal's dinner parties have been a meeting place and a testing ground. She brings together her food ideas and methods in "Dinner for Eight: Healthy Cooking for the Kosher Gourmet" (Maxrom Press, 354 pages, $22.50).

From aioli to zviha meat filling, this is one extended, pragmatic recipe for applause to the hostess-cook. Here, Weisgal makes space for the special dishes of relatives and friends; there, the instructions pause for a pleasant aside. The author appends 63 suggested menus.


The god in Brenda W. Clough's "How Like a God" (Tom Doherty Associates, 288 pages, $22.95) is Gilgamesh, son of Lugalbanda, god-king of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia - still alive in a cave in a central Asian desert. But it may also be Rob Lewis, a Washington software developer, in whom strange powers have suddenly, disastrously appeared.

Clough's fantasy novel ranges even farther, geographically; and the combination of realistic people and surroundings and imaginative story line will make readers turn these pages without stopping.


In "Crusader for the Least of These: The Story of the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, Maryland" (Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, Ca., 126 pages, $11.95, paper), Florence Mulhern tells of Albert H. MacCarthy, who long headed and supported the chapter, and his successors. The book can be a model for other organizations that desire a lasting record.


Once this chill and windy April ends, it'll be let's-get-out-of-the-house time in Maryland. Is there anywhere else a domain offering so many recreational choices? There's more to do than one or two Marylanders can ever undertake, even in a summer when all the rain falls by dark.

"The Wild Side of Maryland: An Outdoor Guide" (The Sun, 236 pages, paper, $15.95) is a practical, pocket-size introduction to this abundance, with sections on parks (five federal, 49 state); geology (eight "best sites" for fossils); wildflowers (toothwort, skullcap and other rarities); birds, snakes (20 varieties) and other wildlife; and on boating, fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, biking (and, when it gets cold again, skiing).

"Wild Side" has maps, charts, photos, bibliographies, phone numbers. The writers: Michael Reeb, Frank D. Roylance, Mike Klingaman, Peter Baker, Jon Morgan, Ernest F. Imhoff, Steve McKerrow and Sandra McKee. Others at The Sun who worked on the book include Molly Dunham, as editor, and Jerold Council, Jerry Jackson, Victor Panichkul, Andrew Murphy, Emily Holmes, John Makely, Marsha Chodnicki, Robert Schrott, and Ray Frager.

James H. Bready writes a monthly book column for The Sun. He previously worked as a reporter, editorial writer and book editor for the Evening Sun.

Pub Date: 4/27/97

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