National Book Award nomination for title published by Sierra Club spotlights plight of America's rivers

David James Duncan's new book, 'My Story as Told by Water,' one of five nominees for the 2001 National Book Award for nonfiction, exposes the threats to America's rivers and celebrates the relationship between river and fly fisherman.

Nov. 8, 2001 — David James Duncan's new book, "My Story as Told by Water," one of five nominees for the 2001 National Book Award for nonfiction, exposes the threats to America's rivers and celebrates the relationship between river and fly fisherman.

"I feel like the salmon and the rivers are receiving this honor," said Duncan in a recent interview. "It's great that the literary community is recognizing this effort to remind us of the importance of water to our lives — that our bodies are more than 70 percent water, that our language is moist with the water in our breath, that our imaginations eddy—and, therefore, of how vital and relevant a clean, living, water supply is to everyone."

In 22 essays, a heartbroken — and hopeful — Duncan examines America's anachronistic federal mining policy, the devastation caused by cyanide leach mining, and the deadly gauntlet of concrete dams, fish-grinding turbines, and slackwater reservoirs that are pushing wild salmon stocks to the brink of extinction. Yet Duncan centers even his darkest explorations in the joys, gratitude, and wonder that walking rivers, rod in hand, provides him.

"My writing is a desperate defense of hope. Even when I'm confronting a horrible absurdity like the 1872 mining act, I try to approach it in a satirical way, to keep the idea of hope alive," said Duncan, an avid fly fisherman who makes his home on a Montana trout stream. "Just as the salmon does not give up as he fights desperately against the dams that prevent him from reaching home, we cannot stop hoping to save these waters and wildlife."

The winners of the 2001 National Book Awards will be announced on Wednesday, November 14, in New York City. The National Book Foundation established the National Book Awards in 1950 to enhance the public's awareness of exceptional books by American writers, and to increase the popularity of reading in general. Since then, the National Book Awards have become the nation's preeminent literary prizes.

My Story as told by Water was published in July by Sierra Club Books, the publishing arm of the nation's largest grassroots environmental organization. "We are gratified that one of our authors has received this great honor," said Danny Moses, editor-in-chief of Sierra Club Books and Duncan's longtime editor. "We are also gratified to see that the concerns about saving the natural world that David expresses so eloquently in his book resonate far beyond the environmental community."

To learn more about the Sierra Club and its book publishing program, please visit http://www.sierraclub.org

One of five nominees for the 2001 National Book Award for nonfiction exposes the threats to America's rivers and celebrates the relationship between river and fly fisherman.

More in Environmental