Maybe poor old peace-loving Spassky should have quit when he was ahead and gone fishing, for as Charles H. Traub writes in his splendid prose and photo anthology, An Angler's Album (Rizzoli, $50), "No human activity is more ripe with humor than angling." Even if you are not a fisherman (as I most assuredly am not), this remarkable book can coax a smile from you. What Traub, a professional photographer and amateur fisherman, has done is collect some of the finest fishing photographs of the last 150 years and some of the cleverest prose of the last 2,000. His photographers include such 19th-century pioneers as Giocchino Altobelli and William Henry Jackson (see his 1883 "Trout Fishing at Wagon Wheel Gap") and such moderns as Lefty Kreh (see his "Trout Taking Nymph"). His writers include the likes of Plutarch, Ovid, Shakespeare, Izaak Walton (of course), Goethe, Washington Irving, Sir Walter Scott, Thoreau (naturally), Shaw, Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, Hemingway (who else?) and Steinbeck.
The novelist Zane Grey is depicted on page 91 posing rather pompously beside a 450-pound sailfish he caught off Catalina Island in 1924. You can almost hear Grey saying, as Traub quotes him, "A fisherman is a lazy bad boy grown up."