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A different set of fish stories

Few shelves in the bookstore can be as predictable as those holding books about fishing. They most assuredly will contain jargon-laden, how-to volumes written, for the most part, by men.

But a newcomer dares to be different.

A Different Angle: Fly Fishing Stories by Women ventures into the genre nearly 600 years after the first writing on fly-fishing, The Treatise of Fishing With an Angle, penned in 1421 by nun and noblewoman Dame Juliana Berners.

Published in April by Seal Press, A Different Angle ($22.95) defies tradition in two ways: Not only are the 17 stories that make up this collection written by women, but none tries to teach us how to fish.

Rather, the 17 contributors have chosen to write about fly-fishing as it relates to their lives, making this a volume as much about life as it is about fishing.

The 288-page book is edited by Holly Morris. Her first compilation _ Uncommon Waters: Women Write About Fishing _ was the first-ever collection of women's fishing literature to be published.

Knowledge of fly-fishing _ or fishing of any sort _ is not required for this book. Though fly-fishing is its central theme, it is a collection of stories about life, death, love, relationships, adventure, passion, religion, redemption, fear, acceptance, triumph, introspection and fun.

The contributors range from Pulitzer Prize-winning author E. Annie Proulx (The Shipping News) to professional fly-casting instructor Jennifer Smith. All share at least two common bonds: skill with both the fly rod and the pen.

Lin Sutherland writes about her rollicking first experience with fly-fishing, an adventure with her mother _ the Joan of Arc of fly-fishing _ who has long since converted from her one-time opinion of fly-fishing as "foo foo fishing."

Mallory Burton tells of the healing power of fly-fishing when she spends the morning of her father's funeral knee-deep in a river wearing his much-too-large boots.

Jessica Maxwell _ a self-professed member of the Fisherman's Order of Obsessed Lunatics (FOOL) _ tells about a wild trip to Mongolia "just to catch a damn fish."

Pam Houston tells of her male-bonding experience standing with a troupe of male poets in an icy Michigan stream at 2 a.m.

Elizabeth Arnold tells how she chucked it all to go to Alaska, where for nearly a year she worked in a salmon processing plant in hopes of one day being able to catch fish for her living.

More reading: The final page of A Different Angle lists six other sports books written by women, all published by Seal Press.

They include Another Wilderness: New Outdoor Writing by Women, a collection of essays about adventures from snowboarding to deep-sea diving edited by Susan Fox Rogers; When Women Played Hardball, a look at the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League by Susan E. Johnson; Leading Out: Women Climbers Reach for the Top, narratives by some of the world's top climbers edited by Rachel da Silva; The Curve of Time, a true story written by M. Wylie Blanchet about a woman who packed up her five children onto a 25-foot boat and explored the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s; and Water's Edge: Women Who Push the Limits in Rowing, Kayaking and Canoeing, 10 profiles of women who have made their mark in these competitive sports, edited by Linda Lewis.

Each sells for less than $15.