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Go Fish?

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Three trips to Newfoundland; 5,000 or so photographs: That's what it's taken for Memphian Bruce Meisterman to produce Arn? Narn. (Gosslee), his book of striking black-and-white photos of Newfoundland.

Five hundred years: That's how long Newfoundlanders have been fishing for cod. In recent decades, though, the cod have largely disappeared from Newfoundland's waters, and a way of life on this island off the coast of Canada is threatened with extinction. Is overfishing to blame? Trawling? Poaching? Climate change? And is this what's in store for fishstocks globally? Hard to say for sure what's to blame or what to predict. But no question about the words one often hears from one Newfoundland fisherman, as he heads out to sea, to a fisherman headed back in: "Arn?" ("Fish?") "Narn." ("No fish.").

Meisterman — advertising director for MBQ: Inside Memphis Business, a sister publication of the Flyer — has had his share of local photography exhibits. (See his upcoming show at Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, opening reception on December 14th.) And he's doing a good job introducing Memphians to Newfoundland popular culture. (On Wednesday of this week, he joined Bruce Newman for a program of Newfoundland folk music on radio station WEVL.)

But the publication of Arn? Narn. is drawing the most attention, as it did recently at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, where interest in Meisterman's work (and its warnings) was encouraging. So too the positive coverage of Meisterman's book generally and particularly in a British magazine, which plans to make Arn? Narn. its book of the month in November.

Memphians have a chance to meet Meisterman when he discusses and signs copies of Arn? Narn. at the Booksellers at Laurelwood on Thursday. Doubtful, though, that Meisterman will be doing a book-store signing in Newfoundland. "Earlier this year, the last independent book store on Newfoundland closed," Meisterman said. "Doesn't mean I won't be going up there for the book, though. I've made friends with many musicians. They'd love to host a signing."

Bruce Meisterman discussing and signing "Arn? Narn." at the Booksellers at Laurelwood, Thursday, October 25th, 6 p.m.

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