This comes up from time to time: What are your favorite books?
I always start with A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean. My wife knows that and she stumbled upon (in one of my Fly Fishing magazines while looking for photos to copy in her water colors) a review of a new book, by John Maclean, Norman’s son. She bought it for me for Christmas. I read it in two days. It was wonderful.
Home Waters, the new book, is a historical account of the history of the Bitterroot area, including a complete history of the Maclean family. John wrote for several Chicago newspapers and eventually was in the Tribune’s Washington DC bureau. He is a solid writer as his profession would suggest.
If you have read A River, then you should read Home Waters. And, if you have read neither, I pity you. (Just kidding.) I marvel at the way Norman Maclean wrote. He only wrote three stories, actually novella type stories. When you order A River, you will actually get three stories together. All are western stories so to speak. The criticism from book publishers who declined to accept it said they have “trees in them.” The Maclean’s background includes work with the Forrest Service and logging, so that stuff is woven through both books.
I learned a lot from both books and they are highly interesting. The writing in Home Waters is good, but the writing in A River is classic. I don’t care if you love fly fishing as I do or don’t, this is wonderful stuff. There is so much about Montana that does not include fly fishing and I love Montana, too.
I read it and it almost leaves me in tears because I get emotional. Sometimes it makes me want to write more and other times it makes me want to stop completely because of intimidation at Norman Maclean’s skills.
Norman Maclean did not write a book until he was over 70. That inspires me to continue to work. I think, “Maybe I too will hit my stride.”
I do not want to write books, but I might some day. The fact that John Maclean wrote about his father suggests I could do that, although there are no plans for that. He has given me the blueprint on how to do it. I would not do it as a way to add income. Book writing typically adds to your debts. You get no income while doing it and you don’t after you finish. LOL.
I was disappointed not to find my original copy of A River when Home Waters arrived. From time to time I loan it out and ask that it be returned. I guess it didn’t make it back one time. I read it again every time it comes back. And I haven’t in some time, so I don’t know what happened to it. If you have it, don’t worry now. I replaced it.
I ordered the 45th anniversary of A River while traveling to Tampa and it includes a foreward from Robert Redford on how he talked Norman into letting him do the movie. It’s a reminder that Norman had passed by the time the movie came out. Redford did explain that others had tried to get the movie rights before him, including one actor who came to Norman’s cabin on a lake to fish and didn’t bother to buy a fishing license. He got thrown out. I like Norman even more after reading that.