ADDRESSES: Home—101 Longden Rd., Shrewsbury SY3 9EB, England.
CAREER: Journalist and broadcaster. Times, London, England, fishing correspondent.
AWARDS, HONORS: BP Natural World Book Prize, Wildlife Trusts, 2000, and Author's Club Best First Novel Award, 2001, both for The Stream.
The Pursuit of Stillwater Trout (nonfiction), A & C Black (London, England), 1975.
(With John Goddard) The Trout and the Fly: A New Approach (nonfiction), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.
The Stream (fiction), Swan Hill Press (Shrewsbury, England), 2000, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY) 2004.
Author of weekly fishing column for London Times. Contributor of essays to Paul McCartney, Paintings, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Brian Clarke's first novel, The Stream, was also the first novel to win the United Kingdom's BP Natural World Book Prize, given to works that add to knowledge of the environment and promote its protection. The book deals with the effect, over the course of five years, of both commercial development and natural forces on a stream flowing through a rural part of England. Clarke, a devotee of fly-fishing, tells his story from the point of view of the fish, birds, mammals, and even insects that inhabit the stream and its environs, as well as from the perspective of human characters. They are all affected as the stream suffers through a drought and becomes polluted due to new industry and population growth.
The Stream is a "magnetic first novel," written in "language as spare as a prose poem," in the words of a Kirkus Reviews critic. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, on the other hand, found it "deeply flawed" and populated by stereotypical characters, but successful "as a naturalistic treatise" because of its detailed description of the stream's ecosystem. Similarly, Jim Coan wrote in Library Journal that the novel is "intriguing," but "conveys less dramatic impact than might be expected." On the other hand, Terry Lawson, a commentator for the Fish and Fly Web site, thought that Clarke "writes with real knowledge and commitment," as well as "real passion." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman, however, deemed The Stream a "powerfully evocative tale" told "in concise, vivid chapters." Godfrey Smith, writing in London's Sunday Times, concluded that it is a "gracefully written novel" and "a parable for our times; it's also a serendipity and a delight."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of The Stream, p. 1816.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of The Stream, p. 345.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Jim Coan, review of The Stream, p. 67.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2004, review of The Stream, p. 32.
Sunday Times (London, England), April 29, 2001, Godfrey Smith, "Rhythm of Life in a Trout Stream."
Fish and Fly Web site, http://www.fishandfly.co.uk/ (February 25, 2005), Terry Lawson, review of The Stream.