A River Runs Through It
Having loved the movie, A River Runs Through It, when the book recently crossed my path I decided to give it a try. In the forward, it is praised to the skies by Annie Proulx and I can see why. It is a perfectly beautiful, evocative, autobiograhical tribute to the three things that Norman Maclean loved: being raised in Montana near the Big Blackfoot river, fly fishing, and his brother, Paul, the one who raised fly fishing to an art, and who lived wild and free and died young.
Now I am not that interested in fly fishing. Nevertheless, the descriptions of Norman and Paul wading through the shadowy pools of the Big Blackfoot, luring the trout with imitations of various flies, are so lyrical and beautiful that I could see and feel and hear the river and their total artistry in fishing it.
Ultimately, the novella is about trying to love the people who are in our lives but we who we don’t completely understand. “It is those we live with and love and should know, who elude us”, says Norman at the end. “Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them… I am haunted by waters.” Maclean wrote the book when he was 72 years old, looking back on his memories of the brother and the river he loved.