“When I dream,” begins Prosek. “I think of the first kisses with a freckle-faced girl, of abandoned New England farms and the limestone Civil War homes on Pennsylvania spring creeks, and bright brook trout.”
This poignant and revealing memoir, includes brilliant images and watercolor paintings of spawning brook trout from Quebec to Georgia, fishing with his best friend, Taylor; his relationship with young love, Whitney; his rowing days at Yale; his relationship to old game warden, Joe Haines; and a night spent trapped in a cabin during a flood at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. Graced with more than 40 stunning watercolors by Prosek, Early Love and Brook Trout is a rare invocation of lost love and the recovery of innocence through fishing.
“[Early Love] evokes a sense of almost trespassing through one of James Prosek's sketchbooks. This fourth book by the precociously prolific author-artist is quite personal, rife with exuberance about fishing and falling in love, and, not surprisingly, the angst that comes with failed relationships. As a writer, he matures with each new work; as a painter, he adds a layer of visual immediacy with his watercolors to his already descriptive prose. Prosek intended this to be a "little book" that would range "lightly over my years from nine to twenty-four, trying to open a window to my thoughts during that time as a river's surface occasionally does to its depths." Like a pool beneath the surface, it yields its trophies: a lovely anecdote about catching tiger trout with his sister; the unabashed first crush in his early teens that leads to a special fishing trip; his description of an old Canadian salmon guide as "a fiction of himself"; and passages like this:
‘Whitney and I bathed together early one morning in the wild Amonoosuc River.... The river was clear and cold, with big round boulders. Tiny brook trout, elusive as early love, darted at the foot of our naked bodies.’
Your heart would have to be awfully hard to want to throw that one back.
— Jeff Silverman, Amazon.com
"An elegant work of prose and painting...his writing at its best is simple, earnest and resonant, at times leaving readers with the quiet, meditative afterglow of the nature writings of Annie Dillard."
— Publishers Weekly
“Prosek's striking watercolors...perfectly capture the vitality of brook trout, the uniqueness of autumn leaves, and the intricacy of trout flies.”
“James Prosek is a National Treasure.”
— Tom Brokaw