By Jeremy Wade
Da Capo Press, $16.00, 275 pages
River Monsters by British television host Jeremy Wade tells a fascinating personal tale of his obsession with the wild and sometimes dangerous creatures that inhabit some of the world’s rivers. This book is not only about overgrown fish, but also about a spiritual and scientific journey around the world. There have been all manner of tales told about the sea and as one finds out here, also the things that can be found living below the surface in riparian systems. Wade takes us on a journey into areas of the soul, as well as some of the remote places on the planet.
These river creatures, not always presented with compassion, can be mean, dangerous, ugly and fascinating. There are fish that can bite a man in half. Fish weights of over 200 pounds are thrown around in the text so much because they can be commonplace among the “monsters”. Meanwhile, out in the ocean, fish are being decimated down the food chain and some fishermen can only bring to market those that have not grown to full size. Wade does not shy away from telling the hard truths, but some may find this to be “nature porn”. That said, it is an engaging study of our relationship and often irresponsible connection with the natural world.
Reviewed by Ryder Miller