On the surface this book spins a fisherman’s tall tale about a ribald angling contest between three middle-aged friends who love (and perhaps hate) each other: a preppy trilingual Machiavelli, an intellectual ghetto pool shark, and a brawny Texan who defies his own macho stereotype. All professional writers, the men have met every autumn for eighteen years at the Big Arsenic Springs on the Río Grande to fly-cast for trout and argue about life, literature, marriage, and eco-Armageddon. Their escapades reveal a spirited paean to a beautiful river gorge, and also a poignant cautionary fable about male friendship and cutthroat competition. As aging cripples them all, tragedy mars the tournament. In this insightful and bittersweet love story, masterful storyteller John Nichols brings to life northern New Mexico and three unforgettable characters.