Love, Madness, Fishing

Dexter Petley

Love, Madness, Fishing by Dexter Petley

Soon after Dexter Petley began writing down his observations of people on the borders of rural Kent and Sussex during the 1960s and 1970s, he realised that his stories were acquiring a broader significance. Between the riverbank where he taught himself to fish and the secondary modern where gardening and smallholding were on the curriculum, he witnessed the lives of a demobbed generation who were still adjusting to post-war Britain, surviving hand-to-mouth, eking out a living mending cars, recycling scrap metal or hop-picking. This fractured landscape, carried like an heirloom since boyhood, has allowed Petley to untangle the fragments of his own life, from the loss of his first love to the nomadic existence he has been living ever since, in London, Africa and France. Here is an unsentimental memoir of exceptional quality. Reminiscent of Laurie Lee and H.E. Bates, each story is peopled by vivid, earthy characters who gravitate around the lakes and ponds and rivers that have flowed through Dexter Petley’s life.

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