Fire in the Straw: Notes on Inventing a Life
By Nick Lyons
FIRE IN THE STRAW is the witty and deeply felt memoir of Nick Lyons, a man with an intrepid desire to reinvent himself—which he does, over and over.
Nick Lyons shape shifts from reluctant student and graduate of the Wharton School, to English Professor, to husband of a fiercely committed painter, to ghost writer, to famous fly fisherman and award-winning author, to father and then grandfather, to Executive Editor at a large book publishing company, and finally to founder and publisher of his own successful independent press..
Written with the same warm and earthy voice that has enthralled tens of thousands of fly-fishing readers, Nick weaves the disparate chapters of his life: from the moment his widowed mother drops him off at a grim boarding school at the age of five, where he spends three lonely and confusing years; to his love of basketball and pride playing for Penn; to the tumultuous period, in the army and after, when he found and was transformed by literature; to his marriage to Mari, his great love and anchor of his life.
Suddenly, with a PhD in hand and four children, Nick embarks on a complex and thrilling ride, juggling family, fishing, teaching, writing, and publishing, the wolf always at his door. Against all odds, The Lyons Press survives, his children prosper, his wife’s art flourishes, and his books and articles make him a household name.
Fire in the Straw is a love story, a confessional, and a beautiful big-hearted memoir.
“This gem of a book is destined to become a classic. With flawless style, Nick Lyons braids together the two archetypal passions that run like golden threads through his complicated life––love and fishing. First place goes to his late wife, the remarkably gifted painter Mari Lyons. Their four-decade romance played out on the rough-and-tumble stage of Manhattan intellectual life. Earlier, we see how the author’s Dickensian childhood in Brooklyn led him to Catskill streams and eventual renown as the master voice in American fly fishing literature. Fire in the Straw deserves an honored place on the short list of definitive New York memoirs.”––Howell Raines, former Executive Editor of The New York Times and author of Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis
“If a book can be life altering, and they sure can be, then this is one of them. There is no mystery why Fire in the Straw is this way, since it is charming, moving, filled with stories, with looks at how things really are in the world, told with a voice I absolutely trust and admire. The item, above everything else, that a book like this provides is inspiration. What a life Nick Lyons has had, fisherman, publisher, father, and loving husband to his wife, and all of it told with a lovely humility, with humor, and with that rare sense of what really matters.” ––Craig Nova, author of The Good Son
“Nick Lyons has spent so many decades nurturing talent in others that it’s easy to overlook the enormous talent he brings to his own writing. His latest book, Fire in the Straw, is the compelling testament of a great editor, teacher, fly-fisher, and father, written in Lyon’s trademark style––lucid, personable, witty, and honest, and so compulsively readable you won’t want this journey through a life to ever end.” ––W.D. Wetherell